Crispy Quinoa Cakes

Ever since Virginia Ripley’s pre-wedding girlfriend gathering I’ve been wanting to make Quinoa cakes again. That night I didn’t really make them but I did enjoy eating them. Ariane – Virginia’s dear dear friend – who was here from Paris to celebrate Virginia and John – rescued me. I never would have known how to pat them together firmly if Ariane hadn’t shown me. And then she cooked them. And somehow I thought it was a big project so I postponed another shot at them. The truth is – they’re manageable – even on a weeknight. Then, the other day, when I was sort of cleaning out the cupboard I came across some quinoa and decided the time had come. This revelation coincided with the arrival of Ellie Seltzer – Alan’s step-mother and my dear mother-in-law.

Quinoa is a curious creature. Grain? Vegetable? Protein? This is what Mark Bittman says about quinoa: “If I told you that it’s not a grain at all, but rather a chenopod related to spinach and beets,” would you believe it? Apparently what Bittman says is true. It’s a high protein gluten free seed. There you have it.

After a full afternoon in Court with a good result for my 12-year old client, I came home to relax and cook and welcome my mother-in-law to Los Angeles. Quinoa cakes. Crispy quinoa cakes that is. A salad and leftover Passover brisket. Alan sliced the green onions for me (perfectly I might add) and off we went on another cooking adventure. A big big hit.

Crispy Quinoa Cakes

(adapted from the New York Times)



1 ¾ cups (14 oz/440 grams) quinoa – of any color. I used red and white

1 1/3 cups vegetable stock (use homemade if at all possible. See Batch-33, March 22, 2014)

1 cup (5 oz/155 grams) flour

½ cup parmesan cheese (2 oz/30 grams) (I used half grated and half shredded)

1 tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp pepper

5 green onions thinly sliced up to some of the green part Other add-ons if you choose like

5 ounces (155 grams) mozzarella cut into

¼ inch cubes. Chopped rosemary, chopped shallots, Dijon mustard, etc.

1 large egg

2 large egg yolks

High-heat oil for frying. I used organic canola, which I know is a big no-no – but I did it anyway.

Lemon wedges


Wash the quinoa really well or it will be bitter. Heat a good heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and add the quinoa. Stir constantly for about 5-minutes and see if the quinoa will become lightly toasted. You might even hear it popping a little bit.

Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until all the broth is absorbed and quinoa is tender but NOT mushy. Maybe about 10 minutes. Look at the quinoa about half-way through to make sure it’s not burning or something.

Once the quinoa is finished, give it a stir , remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl to cool completely. OK to put it in the fridge for a quicker cool-down.

While the quinoa is cooling, slice the green onions, Cuisinart half of the shredded parmesan cheese so it becomes grated parmesan cheese. Separate the two egg yolks, beat a little and add to the whole egg and then beat a little more.

Stir the flour into the quinoa. Also stir in the parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and mix well with your hands. Then add in the green onions, whole egg/egg yolk mixture.

Stir until the mixture comes together like soft dough. I used my hands and gently mixed the ingredients.

Notably, some of the recipes I looked at included in the batter, chopped nuts, minced rosemary, minced shallots, mustard. You could put in lots of things!

Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment. Shape the mixture into 12 or more cakes, each about 2 inches in diameter and about 1 ½ inches high (or lower). You want to make certain that the cakes are tightly packed – you don’t want them falling apart during cooking.

After each cake/patty is made put it onto the parchment lined baking sheet. When all of the cakes are made, place the tray into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to set.

Uncooked cakes

Line another baking sheet with paper towels. Pour in whatever kind of oil you’re using into the flying pan. The oil should be about ¼” deep.

Heat the skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is super hot but not smoking. Put about 5 cakes into the skillet and cook about 3 minutes per side. You want the outside of the quinoa cakes to be dark and crispy but not burnt.

Frying Cakes

When the first batch is done, remove to the paper towel lined platter. Fry up the rest of the quinoa cakes. I served these with lemon wedges. They were delicious. Ask my audience.

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