A lot of good, healthy grains in this house are called “tiny pasta.”
It’s not that I’m afraid to give Zachary the real names of things (he’s not really to the point yet where he will refuse to try things based on the name) but sometimes, it’s easier. “What’s this mommy?” “It’s quinoa. It’s like…tiny pasta.”
Plus? He’s infallible. The other day, he had bulgur (more tiny pasta) with zucchini.
“What’s this mommy?”
“Well, you’re right. It does look like a cucumber, but it’s called ‘zucchini.’”
So when something’s called “tiny pasta” I go with it. Here’s a recipe for pasta cakes. Errr…quinoa cakes. And, they’re pretty fabulous. If you haven’t already eaten quinoa, I urge you to try it. It’s delicious, nutty, and incredibly healthy. It’s got plenty of protein and fiber, and will keep you full for a long time.
The flavors mixed into these patties are some of my favorites—lemon, parsley, olives, and of course cheese. I used kalamata olives rather than green because I’m not a big green olive fan. But I’m a BIG kalamata olive fan. They are cooked in just a little bit of oil in the pan and end up nice and crispy. I added a little cornmeal to them to keep them together a bit better and also to provide some added crunch.
We had these with a salad with lots of feta and Greek-ish dressing. (And I’m sure that the feta would also be lovely actually *in* the cakes, instead of the Romano I used, too.) They paired really wonderfully together and even though the leftovers were not quite as crispy the following day, I still enjoyed them. Tom particularly liked these, and mentioned again after work the next day how much he liked them and how great his lunch was. That’s always the sign of a winning dish—especially when the meal doesn’t contain meat.
While I adored these with salad, they would also be great for breakfast with an egg on top, which I will definitely try next time. You can keep the mixture in your fridge for a day or two and just cook them whenever the mood strikes you, so go ahead and make a batch up on Friday for dinner and then fry up the leftovers on Saturday morning with a poached egg.
Quinoa Cakes with Lemon, Olives, and Parsley
1.5 cups raw quinoa
2.5 cups water or vegetable broth
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
1/3 cup coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (I used a heaping 1/4 tsp. or red pepper)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
about 2 Tbsp. cornmeal
2 Tbsp. olive oil
additional lemon wedges, for serving
Place quinoa in a mesh strainer and rinse under cold water for about 2 minutes. Bring quinoa and water or broth to boil in a medium saucepan (if using water, also add 1/2 tsp. salt). Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the eggs, onion, garlic, cheese, olives, parsley, lemon zest, panko, salt and pepper. Add the cooked quinoa, and then the eggs, stirring until moistened (if your mixture needs to be a little wetter, add about 1 Tbsp. water).
Sprinkle cornmeal over a plate or baking sheet. Form the quinoa mixture into patties, and place on plate. Sprinkle additional cornmeal on top of the patties (this keeps the patties together better and also provides a little extra crispiness).
Heat some of the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat (this depends on how big your patties and pan are, and how many batches you need to do). Add the patties to the hot oil and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes per side. Place on a paper towel-lined plate to remove an excess grease.