Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu and Smoked Mozzarella, Caesar Salad

by Jennifer

My husband is not crazy about eggplant (and yet, I still continue to cook with it, go figure), but he loved this dish.  You can make both the quinoa cakes and the ragu ahead of time (up to a day, covered and chilled).   Serves 4.

Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu and Smoked Mozzarella – adapted from Gourmet magazine

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 egg
  • 5 – 6 TBS olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 lb. eggplant, cut into 1/2” cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 TBS chopped parsley
  • 1/4 lb. smoked mozzarella, diced

To make the quinoa cakes, bring the water and salt to a boil, add the quinoa, cover and lower heat to a simmer (medium-low);

cook quinoa for 20 – 25 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let cool 5 – 10 minutes;

stir in the egg until well-combined.  Cover a baking sheet with plastic wrap and brush wrap with a little olive oil;  brush a 1 cup dry-ingredient measure with olive oil.

Using a spatula fill the cup 2/3 full, packing gently;

invert cake onto the plastic wrap and make three more cakes, brushing the cup with oil in between.

Gently pat down the cakes until they are 4″ in diameter.  Chill in the fridge at least 15 minutes (longer, cover loosely with plastic wrap).

While the quinoa is cooking and you’re making the cakes, toss the eggplant with 1 tsp salt in a colander set in the sink, and let it sit for 30 minutes.  Using your hands, squeeze out any liquid from the eggplant,

then pat it dry in a clean kitchen towel.

Heat 3 TBS oil in a large skillet over medium heat;  cook the eggplant, onion, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, until the onion is begins to get tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and water, stir, cover, and lower heat to a simmer;  cook for 10 minutes.

You can cool the ragu at this point, and chill it, covered, up to a day, or you can set it aside until the cakes are cooked.

To cook the quinoa cakes, heat 2 TBS olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat (I transfered the ragu to a medium-size pot and refrigerated it until it was dinner time);  transfer the cakes to the pan using a wide spatula coated with cooking spray.  Cook 4 – 5 minutes per side, adding 1 – 2 TBS oil as needed after flipping to the other side.

When the cakes are ready, add the parsley and half the mozzarella to the ragu, stirring just until the mozzarella begins to soften.  Plate the cakes, divide the ragu on top each cake, and top with the remaining mozzarella.

Caesar Salad

This recipe does not contain eggs, and is lower in fat than most.  I made this recipe at the end of Passover, hence no croutons, but it would be even more delicious with some good store-bought or home-made croutons.

  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces, washed and dried
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBS fat-free plain yogurt
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Whisk together (or process in a mini-processor) the garlic through pepper.

Toss with lettuce, then add in cheese and toss again.  If using croutons, toss them in last.

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