I used to loathe quinoa.

 

The foreign texture and lack of flavor was only highlighted by the ever faint taste of dirt, quite honestly.  The only thing I could find redeeming about it was saying the word quinoa (keeeenwaaa).  It’s a fun thing for me.  I don’t get out much.

However, like most foods, it’s all about the technique used to cook it that makes it terrible or amazing.   The package directions forget to tell you that quinoa naturally (for the most part) tastes like nothing and yes, maybe even a little bit like dirt.  However, if you cook quinoa in a delicious liquid, the quinoa will absorb the that deliciousness and become delicious itself, much like rice.  So, cook your quinoa in something delicious (like vegetable stock with mushroom and shallot and roasted squash – yum!) and it will be delicious.  I promise you.  Whoever is in charge of the quinoa package should really add that little tip to the back of box.

Then once you’re on the quinoa band wagon along with all the other foodies, you will have to make the always spectacular quinoa cakes.  These roasted pumpkin quinoa cakes with aromatics and sage butter are outstanding. My love of quinoa is now trumped only by quinoa cakes.  The inviting dark golden brown crispy exterior and adorable presentation are upstaged solely by their flavor.   You take a bite and an explosion of savory herbed aromatics and browned butter magnify the delicious autumnal flavor of warm roasted pumpkin.   It’s astonishingly delicious and perfectly, seasonally, vegetarian.

 

Savory Pumpkin Quinoa Cakes

Note: The quinoa needs to be cooked in (store bought or homemade) quality, seasonal vegetable stock.

  • 2 cups seasoned cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup seasoned roasted pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup minced carrot
  • 1/4 cup minced celery
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • pinch of dried rosemary and thyme (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • your favorite oil, for pan frying

Mix quinoa, pumpkin and eggs in a bowl, and set aside.   Heat a nonstick pan over low heat.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, butter, sage, rosemary, thyme and cayenne to the pan.  Lightly season with salt and pepper and cover to sweat out the vegetables and let the flavors combine.  Once vegetables are soft and fragrant, remove the lid and turn heat to medium to lightly brown the butter and onions.

Once golden brown, add to the quinoa mixture, mixing vigorously so you don’t cook the eggs.   Continue to mix until mixture is tempered.  Add oil to a pan over medium heat.  Drop rounded tablespoons onto sizzling oil and cook the cakes  on each side until brown and cooked through.   Serve warm.

 

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15 Responses to Savory Pumpkin Quinoa Cakes

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  2. Channon says:

    This recipe is so original. I can’t wait to try it. I have been using quinoa for 15 years or so and there another secret to perfect quinoa…a quick toast in the oven, which brings out it’s natural nutty flavor. Give it a try!

  3. Kristen says:

    I had THE SAME QUINOA PROBLEM. Exactly! Kinda funny. Anyway, this looks amazing. How many-ish does this recipe make?

  4. Jan says:

    What do you consider “seasoned pumpkin”? How much of what spices go in how much pumpkin? Maybe I missed it but I don’t see a definition. The “seasoned quinoa” is cooked in the vegetable broth with nothing else added? There were these lovely pictured of the pumpkin beng roasted and then no directions for that on the page. They were cooked at what temperature? For how long? Where they mixed with spices or blended? I am confused by the photos and then the recipe with no mention of how to prepare the ingredient.
    I wanted to try this recipe to see if I liked enough to take to my sisters for Christmas but I need more information to even do a test run…please assist. I am sure there are others out there that saw the great picture and wonderful description and are at a bit of a loss when it comes to the application. Did I miss a whole link on the pumpkin prep?

    • No problem. Happy to help. Roasting vegetables (specifically a pumpkin in this case) is very simple and hands off. I don’t want anyone to be lost and I’m glad you asked so you could try the recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

      Roasted Pumpkin

      pumpkin
      salt
      pepper
      olive oil

      Preheat oven to three hundred fifty degrees fahrenheit. Line baking sheet with parchment or foil. Cut a small pumpkin into quarters. Remove stem, seeds, and scrape the stringy bits from the pumpkin, leaving just the pumpkin and the skin. Place pumpkin on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, pepper and olive oil. Place baking sheet in preheated oven until a fork easily slips through the flesh (cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pumpkin and how thick it is, but generally this takes about forty five minutes for a small baking pumpkin). Remove from oven once tender. Once cool enough to handle, remove pumpkin from skin. Place pumpkin in a bowl and discard the skin. Mash with a fork or potato masher. Season as you like.

      Note: I used a pinch of cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste and just mashed it. If you prefer to blend it in a blender or food processor, you may need to add a touch more liquid.

      Also: Yes, I used only vegetable stock to cook the quinoa.

  5. I’m a bit quinoa obsessed lately and eat it in some form several times a week. Love the idea of combining it with pumpkin!

  6. Haha! My husband is not much of a quinoa fan so he will probably agree with you! But what a great idea you come up with to match with pumpkin! I love the color too – so cute and looks delicious!

  7. Baker Street says:

    I’m with you on quinoa! We recently befriended each other. Lol. These savory cakes sound amazing, Kate! :)

  8. these look soooo good! can’t wait to make them!

  9. Liz says:

    Once, when I was sick in bed, my hubby cooked rice for him and the kids. He cooked it in water only…no broth, no salt, no butter. My oldest didn’t eat rice for years after that…LOL…so I totally get what you are saying. I love quinoa…my first taste must have been well seasoned :)

  10. I’m so glad you and quinoa are friends now, this looks gorgeous :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  11. Trina-Quale says:

    Beautifully done! I love your description and they look delicious.

  12. cquek says:

    Fabulous post and thoughts on food. i would love to try that.

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