basil thyme quinoa cakes over arugula with fig honey goat cheese

I think I tend to make quinoa cakes like once or twice a year - and normally when I feel like I need to pull myself together and get back to square one. Square one being actual meals... and not sourdough toast. Don't get me wrong toast is amazing - but there are no real vegetables, greens, or otherwise healthy nutrients to be gained. I'll never forget when I revealed to a guy I was dating how frequently I had english muffins... for dinner. He was especially confused given this is essentially a recipe site.

But this weekend, I pulled out the rice cooker and made my last cup of quinoa. I am simply not capable of making grains without the rice cooker. Forever thankful to my friend Carrie for giving it to me. And then on a Monday night after a full day of work, I easily managed to pull this meal together. It's really simple - and everyone needs to know that. I've made quinoa cakes for the last like 5 years but these are the best ones yet. I'd like to think it's because I plucked the herbs fresh from my garden... and since I'm the writer and the chef, it's probably true.

Here are some tips:

  • Quinoa // you can make this ahead of time. It'll cut down your cook time to less than 10 minutes. Ten minutes!
  • Breadcrumbs v panko // For the past few years, I've been pretty firmly in the panko club ... but an inadvertent breadcrumb purchase a few months ago forced my hand here. Breadcrumbs really enable you to get a nice crust on the cake... and alters the mixture consistency in a good way.
  • Consistency // You want the consistency to be slightly on the wet, loose side but enough that it stays together if you were to ball it up in your hands. I know this isn't a really helpful description - but fundamentally, don't let it be dry. Don't load up on breadcrumbs.

But in the end really, it's about great ingredients. I used fresh herbs from my garden and this goat cheese was real special. It was a fig and honey goat cheese that I bought from the grocery store next to my office. Can't get this? Just use regular goat cheese. It'll be fine.

Here's how it goes. Oh, and here are the other times I've made quinoa cakes (2012, 2013, 2014)

  1. combine cooked quinoa, egg, and breadcrumbs in a bowl. You want the consistency to be slightly on the wet, loose side but enough that it stays together if you were to ball it up in your hands. I know this isn't a really helpful description - but fundamentally, don't let it be dry. Don't load up on breadcrumbs.
  2. add in the chopped basil and thyme.
  3. spoon the mixture into gentle balls and place into a medium-hot skillet.
  4. let cook until browned and then flip to the other side.
  5. while the cakes are cooking, you can mix up the salad dressing. Absolutely toss your greens in the dressing before plating. Use your judgement on what proportions of dressing ingredients - but mostly olive oil, some honey, light squeeze of lemon.
  6. plate the cakes over the arugula and scatter some goat cheese. Drizzle olive oil over the plate.... and then eat.

Shopping List
1 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (1/2 cup uncooked)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
salt to taste (I used pink Himalayan)
6 basil leaves chopped
3 sprigs of fresh thyme

salad
arugula
olive oil, honey, lemon juice
goat cheese

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