Monday, September 17, 2012

Quinoa and Chard Cakes with Tomato Ragu and Smoked Mozzarella

You probably think that I am obsessed with quinoa. I've had friends tell me how they think quinoa is bitter or too mushy, and I offer a few pointers on the best way to cook quinoa and they come back full converts. Generally I use quinoa in the form of salads, but for a very special dinner I wanted to make something more fabulous.

When I had quinoa cakes in the past I found them to be so bland, but these are packed with incredibly delicious flavor. And the smokey mozzarella tomato ragu is unbelievably amazing. In these quinoa cakes, quinoa is mixed with Swiss chard (both leaves and stems!) and parmesan and fragrantly seasoned with garlic, ground cumin, and crushed red pepper. 

I love that the Swiss chard stems and leaves are both used in these quinoa cakes, what a wonderful way to use all parts of the chard! 

Combine quinoa with Swiss chard, parmesan, and egg to create a patty. Pan fry in olive oil and canola oil until crisp and golden brown. You can serve them topped with a delicate, refreshing garlic scented yogurt or a savory, flavor rich tomato ragu with smoked mozzarella. 

Other delicious Swiss chard recipes you might like include:

Qunioa and Swiss chard Cakes with Tomato Ragu and Smoked Mozzarella
1 bunch of Swiss chard, separate leaves from stems (do not discard the stems)
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup quinoa cooked
1/2 cup parmesan, coarsely grated
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp canola oil

Prepare a large bowl with ice water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil,  add salt, and add Swiss chard leaves. Blanch for 2 or 3 minutes then transfer to an ice bath. Leave the water boiling on the stove. Drain chard leaves and squeeze out all excess water and chop. Add chard stems to boiling water and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to ice bath and drain and chop into 1/4" pieces. Set aside 3/4 cup of stems and reserve the rest for another use.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes, add garlic, stir for 30 seconds. Then add chard leaves and stems and ground cumin, cook for 2 minutes and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to a large bowl, add quinoa, parmesan, and beaten egg. Stir together.

Heat the large skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes and then add olive oil and canola oil together. Moisten your hands and shape the quinoa and chard mixture into small patties. Carefully place in hot oil, do not crowd in pan. Press down with the bottom of a spatula. If the patty starts to fall apart just push it together. If the patty is thick enough it shouldn't fall apart. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side until browned. Remove from heat and set on a paper towel lined plate.

Serve on a plate over tomato ragu and top with a little more of the ragu.

Tomato Ragu and Smoked Mozzarella
1 cup canned whole tomatoes and their liquid
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 fat cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 onion finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/4 cup diced smoked mozzarella
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper, cooking until fragrant for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and tomato paste, stir, and simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and oregano and season with sea salt and pepper. Add smoked mozzarella and stir to combine until melted. Serve while hot.

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