Quinoa Cakes and Vegetable Ratatouille

Quiona Cakes and Vegetable Ratatouille

Eat these scrumptious vegan cakes on their own, with a fall salad, or with a fish dish (like mahi mahi or cod) topped with a vegetable ratatouille. They are not only delicious, but very easy on your budget even when using organic ingredients.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa not kwin-o-a) is one of my favorite grains with a rich past.

Quinoa’s Past

A sacred food, quinoa was considered “the mother of all grain” by the native mountain people of Peru and Bolivia. That was until the Spanish invaded in the early 1500s and Francisco Pizarro outlawed the worship of the quinoa, replacing it with Catholicism. Pizarro burnt the quinoa fields and outlawed its growth. Since quinoa was such an important primary food to the Incas, eliminating it from their diet was a huge contributing factor to their extinction.

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We are lucky that the quinoa is so hardy. Since it could grow at 10,000 to 20,000 feet above sea level, quinoa was not eliminated but continued to be grown in secret. It is now experiencing huge popularity with most of our quinoa coming from its original sources, Peru and Bolivia, so history is reversing itself … Pretty neat!!

Quinoa’s Value 

This healthy small grain (which is actually a seed) is not only high in protein, providing us with all nine amino acids, but it’s also nutrient dense. Quinoa contains iron, lysine, magnesium and B2 or riboflavin, as well as manganese and copper. It has almost twice as much fibre as other grains and is high in calcium. Quinoa promotes the health of most our body’s systems and is a low glycemic and gluten-free grain. Ya gotta love it!

Recipe for Quinoa Cakes and Vegetable Ratatouille:

Ingredients

• 1 cup of quinoa (I cook a full cup, producing 3 cups of cooked quinoa. I use one cup for this dish and keep the rest in the fridge for salads, stir-fries, breakfast porridges and more during the week)

• Salt (to taste)

• 1 ½ cup water (preferably reverse osmosis water)

• 1 – 2 tsp. of coconut oil (2 tsp. if you love coconut for flavour and health reasons)

• 2 tbs. avocado oil or olive oil. I prefer avocado oil for caramelizing because as refined oil it has a higher flash point.

• 2 peppers cubed – red and yellow preferably

• 3 medium onions, chopped (2 ½cups)

• 1 28 oz. of organic tomatoes with juice

• ¼ to ½ cup of bread crumbs – I use gluten free (a couple of slices of gluten free bread crumbled in your food processor works well)

• 2 beaten eggs

• 2 – 4 tbsp. of parmesan – only if dairy tolerant

 

Instructions

1. Presoak the quinoa for 8 to 14 hours. Cover it in 1” of water, preferably reverse osmosis (RO) water. (Why soak you ask? Soaking helps remove the remaining saponin and breaks down the phytic acid in the quinoa. Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that makes grains/seeds harder to digest.)

2. Rinse well before cooking. This will help remove the bitter saponin.

4. Cook soaked rinsed quinoa in 1-½ cups of boiling water. You’ll need less water than your package of quinoa recommends due to the soaking. The best way to cook quinoa is to put it in a pot with boiling water, bring it back to a hard boil, cover, turn off the heat and leave the pot on the hot burner covered. It will finish cooking on its own (+20 min.). Once cooked you will see tiny spirals (the germ) separating from and curling around the quinoa grain. Fluff lightly while adding the coconut oil.

4. Cook onions and peppers in a large frying pan. Continue cooking until the vegetables are reduced, deeply darkened and caramelized.

5. Add tomatoes and liquid. Continue cooking until ½ the liquid is evaporated.

6. Remove 1 cup of tomato mixture. Set it aside to use as the vegetable ratatouille garnish.

7. Combine just enough breadcrumbs to the rest of the tomato and vegetable mixture to hold it together. The breadcrumbs will and absorb the oil and liquid. Let it cool.

8. Combine quinoa cake ingredients. Mix together 1 cup of quinoa, 2 beaten eggs (and Parmesan if using) together in a large bowl.

9. Form mixture into balls and gently flatten into patties. (Don’t worry if your patties are gooey; they cook into firmer patties.)

10. To cook, bake, BBQ or fry. Bake in a 350 degree oven or BBQ for 20 – 30 min. on pan lined with baker’s paper until firm, flip when browned – or fry in 2 tbs. of oil on medium high, flip over when browned and cook until firm.

I love having these cakes in my freezer for a really speedy meal. To freeze, place them on baker’s paper, using extra sheets to keep them separate, so once frozen they can be easily accessed. Be sure to mark your freezer bag with the content and the date. To use frozen quinoa cakes, you don’t need to defrost them – just bake, BBQ or fry them from their frozen state.  For optimum flavour, be sure to eat your frozen quinoa cakes within 3 months of freezing.

Enjoy….

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