Sizzling up some quinoa cakes
Easy-to-buy ingredients, cutting down on food waste and putting flavour first is the winning combination compiled by food writer and home cook Melissa Hemsley in her book Eat Green.
Utterly moreish, hot or cold, these make a delicious veggie burger and are also brilliant for parties as bite-size canapés with the chimichurri yoghurt as a dip on the side. They are a great way to use up leftover quinoa, but if you want you can make them from scratch. Just remember to cool the quinoa right down, don't try to cook these with hot quinoa! Serve with a refreshing green or tomato salad.
1 small onion or 4 spring onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 big handful of fresh coriander, parsley or basil, leaves and stems, finely chopped separately
2–3 tbsp butter
A pinch of chilli flakes
50g flour, such as chickpea
540g cooked quinoa (which is 200g uncooked quinoa, rinsed well and drained – ideally soaked first) 100g feta, crumbled, or a hard cheese like Parmesan or Cheddar, grated Sea salt and black pepper
100ml full-fat natural yoghurt
1 big handful of chopped fresh coriander, leaves and stems
1 big handful of chopped chives, spring onions or onion
1 big handful of chopped fresh parsley, leaves and stems
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 fat garlic clove
1 tsp dried oregano or thyme
Chilli flakes, to taste
In a wide frying pan, fry the onion, garlic and herb stems over a medium heat in 1 tablespoon of the butter with a good pinch of salt (less if your leftover quinoa has already been seasoned), pepper and chilli for five minutes, stirring from time to time.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a large bowl, then mix in the flour, followed by the cold quinoa and crumbled feta. Add the garlic, onion and herb mix to the bowl with the herb leaves. Mix well and shape into 12 cakes (or 24 bite-size), about 1cm thick. The easiest way to do this is to split the mix into two, and then keep dividing. If you're finding it tricky to form them, try adding a touch more flour.
If the cakes feel firm, then go ahead and start frying them. If not, pop them on to a plate and into the fridge to firm up for 15 minutes.
Use this time to make the chimichurri yoghurt by combining all the ingredients with some salt and pepper and blitzing in a food processor. Or you can chop all the ingredients, then thin it out with a few tablespoons of water if you like it saucier.
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in the original pan then, once hot, add however many cakes you can fit into a single layer — I could fit four in my pan. You don't want them to be touching or they'll steam instead of fry. Let them sizzle for about three minutes on each side to get nice and golden and hot throughout. Then repeat for the rest of the batch. I turn the heat up as I add the cakes, then lower to a medium heat to fry. Put your cooked cakes in a low oven to keep warm while you finish the rest.
Feeds four, takes 40 mins.