Herbed Quinoa Cakes with Tomato Gouda Cream

Oh haayyy….its Polar Vortex here in Cincinnati (a low of -22 with wind chill, sweet!) and I for one, am happy to snuggle my thermostat cranked to 70 degrees and stay inside until Spring.
I wanted to make something cozy and comforting last night, and I immediately thought of my favorites: Adult Macaroni and Cheese, Wild Mushroom Bisque or Chicken Swiss Casserole, but I decided to branch out into something a little different but equally comforting.

I do love Quinoa, as you can see, but other than making it as a side dish, I haven’t really experimented with this grain. I was toying with the idea of Quinoa burger; but I wanted to keep these on the lighter side (no bun, and no additional “filler” like beans or bread crumbs) so I ended up with these Herbed Quinoa Cakes and um, LOVED THEM.

Crunchy on the outside, and tender on the inside. These are literally BURSTING with vegetables so yes, this is a health food. The Tomato Gouda Cream is the right amount of richness to put these over the top.  I am loving the idea of these with a poached egg and a slice of tomato for a Quinoa Eggs Benedict. Drool.

Herbed Quinoa Cakes
Cooking spray
1 c. quinoa, dry
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and minced
1 medium zucchini (shredded)
8 white button mushrooms
1 c. fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2 tbs chopped cilantro, fresh (or parsley if you prefer)
2 tbs chopped basil, fresh
3 scallions, green and white parts, diced
2 oz Gouda cheese, shredded
1 tbs lemon zest
1 egg
2 tbs whole wheat flour (optional)
Sea Salt, Black Pepper

Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Set aside, allowing to cool slightly.
Pre-heat oven to 350. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

Spray a deep skillet with cooking spray, set over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, zucchini and button mushrooms. Liberally add salt and pepper. Cook down until veggies are soft. Add spinach and cook until just wilted.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix cooked quinoa, cooked vegetables, shredded gouda, and fresh basil, cilantro, scallions and lemon zest until thoroughly combined. Taste here. Add more salt/pepper as needed. Stir in egg until mixture holds together. If able, allow mix to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes (it will help the patties keep their shape). If you’re mix still looks too loose, add in 1-2 tbs flour. Shape into 8 patties. Mixture will be moist; but should hold a patty shape.  Place patties in one layer on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, flip, and bake another 15 minutes until cakes are golden brown. Serves 4 (two cakes each).
For my little resolutioners (as calculated by me at myfitnesspal.com):
For 2 cakes: 287 cals, 37 g. carbs, 9 g. fat, 13 g. protein, 6 g. sugar

IMG_7770IMG_7772IMG_7774 IMG_7775

Tomato Gouda Cream
Cooking spray
8-10 grape tomatoes, halved
1 tbs whole wheat or all-purpose flour
2 c. almond (or skim) milk
1 tbs cream cheese
3oz Gouda cheese, shredded
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of garlic powder
Sea Salt, Black Pepper

Spray a skillet with a cooking spray, set over medium heat. Add tomatoes, and liberally salt and pepper. (Fun fact: The tomatoes will release a bit of moisture; so you really don’t need a fat here to help the tomatoes cook). Once tomatoes are soft; sprinkle with flour, tossing until tomatoes are coated. Slowly add milk, whisking until all the lumps are dissolved and the bits are up from the bottom. Once the white sauce is smooth, stir in cheeses, whisking until smooth. Once the cheese sauce is rich and velvety (swoon) add a pinch of garlic and cayenne and any additional salt/pepper as needed. Serves 4.
For my little resolutioners (as calculated by me at myfitnesspal.com):
For 1 serving: 139 cals, 19 g. carbs, 10 g. fat, 9 g. protein, 10 g. sugar

IMG_7773 IMG_7777
I plated mine over a heap of deliciously soft and juicy caramelized onions and peppers, but you could serve yours on its own. IMG_7779Yeah, it doesn’t need much to be incredible.IMG_7780Cheese sauce 4-life.

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