Love and Olive Oil

Quinoa Cakes with Lemon, Olive, and Parsley

Quinoa Cakes with Lemon, Olive, and Parsley

OK, I give in. Y’all want healthy, so I’ll give you healthy. For a little while at least. But next week? Let’s just say next week I have a different kind of cake in store for you. But maybe if you eat enough of these quinoa cakes in the meantime you can justify the splurge.

To be honest we eat a lot of meals like this. Part grain, part flavorful mix-in, typically vegetarian, and probably meant to be served as an appetizer but we eat it as our main dish anyway.

It’s kind of our thing.

These particular little parcels pack a potent punch. Salty olive, tart lemon, bright parsley. And quinoa. Which, if you haven’t tried it yet, is all kinds of awesome. It’s a super grain, protein packed and slightly crunchy, with a delightfully nutty flavor. And did I mention healthy? Call it my gift to you.

Quinoa Cakes with Lemon, Olive, and Parsley

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1 1/2 cups raw quinoa
2 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup coarsely chopped green or kalamata olives
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoon olive oil


Place dry quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cool water for a few minutes.

Place quinoa, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil. Cover, decrease the heat, and simmer for about 25 t0 30 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender but still has a bit of crunch left (al dente, I suppose!). Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. You’ll need 3 cups of cooked quinoa for the recipe.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together onion, garlic, cheese, olives, parsley, lemon zest, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and cooled quinoa. Add eggs and stir until quinoa is evenly moistened. Add water to thoroughly moisten mixture. Quinoa should be slightly wet so it doesn’t dry out during cooking.

Scoop out mixture by the 2 tablespoonful. Use clean, moist fingers to form into a patty. Alternatively, we found that using one of our 2-cup plunger measuring cups, lightly oiled and set to about 1/4-cup capacity. Fill and compact the quinoa into the cup, then simply pop the cake out and right out and into the hot skillet. Much easier and the cakes held together much better.

In a large skillet over medium low heat, heat olive oil. Add four to six patties to the hot pan (or as many as you can fit without overloading). You’ll need a bit of room to successfully flip them.

Cook on each side until beautifully browned, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Medium-low heat helps insides cook at an even pace. Remove browned cakes to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with remaining quinoa mixture.

Quinoa mixture will keep, uncooked and covered in the refrigerator for a few days. Just prior to serving, cook as directed and serve hot.

From Super Natural Everyday via Joy the Baker.

All images and text © / Love & Olive Oil

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  1. Instead of frying, I plan to bake in a sprayed muffin tin.

  2. Made these for dinner and they were DELICIOUS. I am not a parsley fan so I subbed chopped spinach (just to make them even healthier and *more* packed with vitamins, you know…). I didn’t have Parmesan on hand so I used crumbled feta, which was perfect with the kalamata olives! And finally, I popped them in a mixture of breadcrumbs, toasted sesames, salt and pepper before I cooked them (I was concerned they wouldn’t hold together)- the result was crispy and delicious. This is a keeper!

  3. Quinoa, olives and lemon – a delicious combination. Thank you so much, will be trying these soon.

  4. Just made these. They are super good. I feel like they need a sauce of sorts–might try a yogurt sauce

  5. i’ve been dreaming about these forever and i finally got them together tonight. they were great, and more filling than i thought they’d be. thanks so much!

  6. Lindsay,

    Congratulations! You mom just told me to take a look at your blog! You are so talented! Very excited for your book to come out. My husband CJ is a cookie dough lover, so we will be sure to order one!

  7. These little cakes look amazing! who would have thought you could do that with quinoa? – very clever!

  8. I just made these and while they taste delicious, there was absolutely no way they were sticking together and staying cakes, even well-moistened, even in a ring mold in the pan. I ended up just toasting the whole mixture and enjoying it anyway, but how on earth did you get them to turn out like that?

    • We packed them pretty firmly into the measuring cup. You could also try adding another egg if you feel it’d help the quinoa stick together.

    • I had the same trouble, but found tightly packing the mixture into the measuring cup and using two spatulas to flip them worked well. It took some practice though… Is there a binding alternative to eggs? I would like to make these for my in-laws but they are vegetarians. These little cakes are yummy!

    • I just made these tonight and they held together fine for me, though I was very careful as I flipped them. I actually didn’t add the 2 TB of water at the end, my mixture seemed pretty wet. I thought my quinoa was pretty wet when I added it, so maybe it was that my mix was pretty moist. I thought they were good and will make them again.

  9. These look awesome – quinoa is one of my absolute favorite foods!

  10. They look delicious – I love quinoa, but what an exciting way of cooking with it…

  11. Ive recently made delicious potato cakes but these actually look even better!! And yes healthy too..;) saved the recipe!!

  12. I made these this afternoon without the olives, but only because I didn’t have any hand. It’s a really great pantry/ staple-fridge-item dish, in that most of the items are things that I tend to have on hand anyhow. Since I didn’t have the olives and was worried that they might need a bit more flavor, I added a small amount of minced hot peppers and a bit extra salt. It was very tasty!

  13. I’ve wondered about quinoa cakes and I love the flavors in yours. So pretty!

  14. Looks great and healthy too! I’m going to make these and NOT tell my family what is in them until after. They’ll fall for it, I know it!

  15. I love quinoa cakes! I have also used a small cookie scoop to make balls then baked off a sheet of them. They’re great dipped in a chipotle or basil aioli for a snack or passed app.

  16. These look utterly delicious…I think this would be a lovely lunch recipe.

  17. Looks delicious! And lucky me, I have all the ingredients for this — going to try it out this evening!

  18. Would you recommend serving these with a sauce? And if so, what kind, tomato?

  19. The olives and other ingredients really take this quinoa to a great place.

  20. We eat like this, too! Add this on top of a salad and we’re good. I love little fried quinoa cakes. Heidi (101cookbooks) got me addicted, but I can’t wait to try your variation :)

  21. Just made these for dinner. Wow!!! They are delicious! Even my 2-year old loves them. Can’t wait to try have them for breakfast with an egg-over-easy on top. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes. Thank you!

  22. Oops, forgot to ask how many little cakes does this recipe make?

  23. Hehe, honestly I’m not into healthy either maybe because of the label makes it seem boring. I love this little cakes, they’re so cute. I popped over to check out the plunger because I was going to ask you how you got your cakes so perfect…did you see the “original” price on them? Makes me laugh!

    So I have a bag of quinoa and I have never cooked with them before…this might be the thing I have to try first! Thanks!!

  24. I’m all over these little cakes! I just printed out the recipe so I can try them soon, since I’m trying to find more ways to use whole grains creatively.

  25. Thanks for this, something healthy and vegetarian which my partner might even like!!

  26. These look so good – virtuous and delicious! I never really cook with quinoa as I’ve got so many recipes for couscous and bulghar wheat but it looks lovely…might have to make it my NY resolution to try!

  27. i have literally a boatload of grains in storage – this may just be the thing to do w/ some of it!

  28. Looks good! I printed this out to give it a try. I have a ton of quinoa in the pantry, that I need to use.

  29. Yum! What cute little cakes! I would definitely eat a few of these up for dinner!

  30. I have seen these before, but yours got my attention with the lemon, olives and parsley! Yum:-)

  31. oh, yum! and I have one of those plunger things….off to check the pantry (already have the quinoa!)

  32. These look lovely! I’ll definitely be trying them this weekend!

  33. I’m a HUGE fan of quinoa, and of appetizers-turned-main dishes! The flavors in this are some of my favorites. Bring on the cake next week, though!

  34. These look great! I have see many quinoa cake recipes but this one has definitely caught my eye…can’t wait to try them!

  35. Do they taste eggy?

    • Not really. The egg is mostly a binder. Yes, you’re going to taste it a bit, but it doesn’t taste like a fritatta or an omelet if that’s what you’re wondering. :)

  36. Perfect looking little cakes. Hope your 2012 is off to a great start.

  37. I love little cakes like these. I’ve made them with all sorts of different grains, but I LOVE ones made with quinoa. All the flavorings in yours sound delicious :D

  38. These look amazing! I am totally trying these!!

  39. This looks just amazing! I love quinoa but have never tried anything like this, although quinoa cakes seem to be popping up all over my pinterest boards… I think I’d better try it!

  40. these look like just the healthy sort of thing we need to be eating right now. I’m pinning it!!

  41. These look so delicious! I adore quinoa.

  42. Love, love, love the addition of olives! There is nothing better than an olive lemon combo. Making my grocery list now and just added the ingredients I need to make these- thanks!

  43. Absolutely lovely!

  44. Ah yum, anything with lemon will win me over. These look lovely and delicious!

  45. Now THIS is a cake I’ll eat. 40 of ’em.

  46. These look fantastic, and like such a healthy alternative. I’m always looking for creative ways to use more exotic grains in my diet!

  47. I really need to start eating more food like this – healthy, tasty and full of goodness. It looks delightful!

  48. These cakes look fantastic! I recently made a similar recipe to this, but mine didn’t include olives – I will definitely have to do that next time, it sounds really delicious! :)

  49. beautiful presentation and these look so good! :) ew, healthy! haha just kidding :)

  50. I love everything about these little cakes!

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