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March 27, 2013 / beeandtrumpet

Spinach Quinoa Cakes with Goat Cheese & Red Pepper Yogurt

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Having read Lance’s last post, the linked recipe, and returning later to the sighs in the comments over the excessively long list of ingredients, I felt compelled to post up this super-simple quinoa ‘burger’ I knocked together in a pinch; I was lacking eggs and The Boy was asking for Spinach Pie.  Spinach Pie is a staple in my repertoire.  I use a quiche plate and crust to marry spanikopita to a low-egg quiche-like torta a high school friend’s mother used to make.  The friend’s family was from Uruguay, and her spinach-dense pie was wonderful, albeit lacking in feta cheese I adore in the Greek version.  My mash-up is a house favorite, for both children and adults.  But I digress…

To answer a bit of the commentary to Lance’s post; in the interest of thrift, I generally stick with white quinoa, and have never dealt with the black.  That said, in the interest of aesthetics, I often mix 1 part red to 3 parts white while dry – it cooks up the same and looks extra tra-la-la on the shelf in the larder.

These patties were the sleeper smash of the week.  We ate them three times that week.  And when I say we, I actually don’t mean that I served these, and then watched my dining companion desecrate them.  We ate these three times that week.  And, we ate them for lunch today.

***

 This is an eggless ‘veggie-burger’ that does not stoop to clever ‘replacements’; I’m feeling pretty proud of that.  It makes quite a few patties, I like to have some to freeze.  You could cut down to 1 cup of quinoa and a 10 0z pack of spinach if you wanted, but you’d have to do the math yourself.  Also, make sure your hands are clean, I work this like meatballs, you need to get the goat cheese and spinach fully integrated to get the patties to keep their shape during cooking.

Quinoa Spinach Cakes with Goat Cheese & Feta

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa (white, red, or mixed)
  • 1 16 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and squeezed dry
  • 1/3 cup fine, unseasoned bread crumbs, plus extra for dredging
  • up to 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp sherry (or wine) vinegar
  • 1 cup pureed tomato (canned or fresh)
  • kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper
  • 1 3.5 oz package chèvre (goat) cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely crumbled feta, preferably brine packed

Place quinoa in a medium saucepan and rinse well  with several changes of water.  Drain, add 2-3 cups fresh cold water, then bring to a boil.  Lower heat, simmer about ten minutes.  Quinoa seeds should be cooked tender, but still have structural integrity, a little bounce to the bite – al dente.  As soon as the quinoa feels done to the teeth, pour into a fine sieve, and leave to drain completely and steam-off over the cooking pot while you see to other elements.  Letting the quinoa rest in the sieve will end the cooking time, and give you a soft, fluffy result.

In a large mixing bowl fluff out the thawed, drained spinach.  Add the quinoa, bread crumbs, oregano, garlic powder, vinegar, 3/4 cup tomato puree, salt and pepper and work with your hands until well combined.  Now unwrap and finely crumble the chèvre into the quinoa mixture, work again with hands.  You are going for as uniform a mass as you can get, the mixture will be quite sticky.  If it is too dry, try another tbsp or two of tomato, or even a tbsp or two of water or vinegar – if it seems too wet, add a 1/4 cup of bread crumbs.

When you feel you’ve got a good mix, stir in the crumbled feta, and taste for flavor – if necessary, adjust with pepper, salt, garlic or oregano.

To form the patties:

In a deep plate or shallow dish, pour about a 1/2 cup of additional bread crumbs.

With your hands pick up enough of the mixture to essentially fill your palm, and make a ball about 3-4 inches in diameter.  The size you settle on will determine the size of your patty.  It is up to you; 2 1/2″ balls will give you little croquettes, 4 1/4″ balls will give you fat patties suitable for your burger night.

Flattern your ball gently into a disk, and set it on the breadcrumbs in the dredging dish.  Continue flattening, the disk as you gently push it into the breadcrumbs, patting it round the sides to keep a nice circular shape and thick, strong edges.  The patty should be about 3/4″ to 1″ thick.  Flip, and repeat the process on the second side.

The patties can be pan-fried in olive oil at moderate heat, or baked in a 375° for about half an hour.  For baking, you will need to spray the patties with oil (both sides) on the baking sheet, or dip/brush the patties with oil, prior to dredging in breadcrumbs.  Either way, you are looking for a crisp brown crust to the out side.  be careful not to over bake, so as not to dry out the patties.

***

As promised in my header, I am also including here one of my favorite condiments, Roasted Red Pepper Yogurt.  I am a great fan of red pepper and chipotle aioli (among other mayonnaise and sour cream based sauces) and I have been, the past few years, slowly morphing all of my favorites into yogurt based sauces.  The caveat is that they usually finish a little loose, and benefit enormously from a little time spent the ‘fridge before use as a spread or dip.  Here the sauce is rather a drizzled coulis so don’t worry about the ‘fridge time.  At room-temp, this can even be a great salad dressing.

You can roast your own peppers over the gas flame on your stove, or if you are using jarred, try to get a European brand with the point-end peppers, rather than the American ‘bell’ peppers.  Also, if you don’t already, get a can of chipotles in adobo, and run the entire contents through your processor or blender, then keep it in a jar in the ‘fridge – you will find a thousand uses for this piquant, smoky hot sauce (thank you Alton Brown!).

Roasted Red Pepper Yogurt Spread and Dip

  • 3/4 cup greek yogurt (I like Cabot, full fat – or Sahadi’s handmade!)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup diced r. r. peppers
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dry – ground slightly between your palms)
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • plenty of fresh-gound black pepper
  • 1 tsp to 1+ tbsp pureed chipotle in adobo (optional)
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • kosher salt to taste

In a food processor, mini prep, or vessel you like to use with your stick-blender, combine the yogurt, peppers, thyme, vinegar, about a 1/2 tsp of salt, pepper and chipotle, if using.  Pulse until well combined, nearly fully pureed, then switch to ‘on’ and add the olive oil in a steady stream.

Cheers!

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One Comment

Leave a Comment
  1. lanceblair / Apr 17 2013 3:02 am

    Oh wow! Two great recipes that I’m definitely going to use. Thank you!

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