Thursday, December 13, 2012

Leftovers and a Recipe for Quinoa Cakes with Broccoli and Parmesan

When I was growing up my family ate a lot of leftovers and I never gave it much thought.  Both of my parents worked outside of the home and I was certainly quite lucky to have a mother who was an excellent cook (my father was no slouch either).  But, as most of us can now appreciate, it's difficult to get a nutritious, balanced meal on the table night after night especially coupled with the stresses of modern daily life.

Clearly recognizing this, my mother would cook items in batches or repurpose food from the previous evening's dinner.  I have no doubt this was more economical and just plain easier for weeknight meals.

To this day, I still love leftovers.  I think a lot of foods taste better the next day or a even a few days later.  Plus, I am a big fan of the cook once, eat twice philosophy of meal prep.

My family now?  Not so much.

Both my husband and daughter make the same "yuck, leftovers" face when presented with food that vaguely resembles something else they recently consumed in our home (the HORROR!).  But, as I've mentioned before, I hate wasting food.  So, from my love of leftovers and a refusal to throw out perfectly good food, a recipe was born.

Our family is making a concerted effort at limiting processed foods, especially carbohydrates and flour so we've been eating a lot of quinoa.  Fortunately it's delicious, nutritious and cooks up in a flash.  You can even prepare large batches and freeze it in measured portions.   What I love best about this dish is that the recipe uses leftover quinoa and some broccoli I had in the fridge.  I think using cold quinoa was the key - sort of like using cold leftover rice for fried rice or cold leftover risotto for cakes.

The idea here is to be creative - use whatever you have on hand.  I imagine these would be great with spinach and goat cheese.  Or carrots and cumin and feta.  Or cauliflower and cheddar.  Or...

Quinoa Cakes with Broccoli, Parmesan and Mozzarella
Yields about 8 2-3" cakes


  • 1 1/2 c cooked quinoa (preferably chilled - leftovers)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cooked broccoli (mine was steamed)
  • 1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese (more if you want)
  • 2 TBS shredded mozzarella (I used part-skim)
  • 1/4 c bread crumbs (I used gluten free corn flake crumbs)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Oil for frying


  1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the egg, in a mixing bowl and stir well.  Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  2. Add in the egg and make sure it is thoroughly incorporated and the mixture isn't lumpy - use your hands if you want to.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan until it shimmers (I used olive but you can use canola, grapeseed - anything that won't burn too quickly since you want these cakes to be brown and crispy).
  4. Scoop out the mixture into approximately 2 TBS portions and form a cake that is a little less than 1/2" thick.
  5. Place in the oil and cook for about 8-10 minutes (flipping over mid-way through) until brown on the exterior and fully cooked inside.
  6. Alternatively, brown on each side for a minute or two and finish cooking in a 375˚F oven.
  7. Season with additional salt while they are still hot (if desired).

We had these for dinner but I bet they would make a great savory breakfast with a fried or poached egg on top.