Happy National Spinach Day!! I am all about eating my greens and today is just an extra day to celebrate my love for this fantastic leafy ingredient. What I love about spinach is that it is so versatile. Use it raw as a base for salads, add it to soups for color, sauté some up for a healthy side, or make it a bit more gluttonous in dishes like creamed spinach. Spinach is also a major superfood. It’s been said to have health benefits ranging from nourishing the eyes, improving digestion, and building bones. So loading up on this nutritious green and enjoy my latest recipe creation!
I was trying to think of an out of the box way to highlight spinach in my latest recipe. I am in love with quinoa and I thought pairing the two would be a perfect match up. After some trial and error with ideas I came up with Spinach Pesto and Ricotta Quinoa Cakes. They are simple to make and can be a side dish or even a main course.
Spinach Pesto and Ricotta Quinoa Cakes
1 cup dry quinoa (prepared using directions on the box/bag)
1 bag spinach (regular size bag..not the jumbo!)
¼ cup pine nuts
½ cup parmesan cheese (for pesto)/ 2 tbsp (for topping)
½ cup olive oil (for pesto) / 2 tbsp olive oil (for frying pan)
2-3 cloves of garlic
½ cup ricotta
1 lemon (and the zest from half of it)
½ cup almond meal ( I got mine from Trader Joes)
Quinoa Preparation (The night before):
Use the box/bag directions to cook 1 cup of dry quinoa. Once cooked place in a Tupperware container and cool overnight. If you want to speed up the process you can make the day of and place in the freezer for 20 minutes to cool down.
Place the spinach, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, and ½ cup of olive oil in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth.
Ricotta Mixture Prep:
Mix ricotta, zest from ½ of lemon, juice from ½ lemon, and a pinch of salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Put aside.
Quinoa Cake Preparation:
Place cooled quinoa, the juice from the other ½ of the lemon, 1 egg, almond meal, ¾ of the pesto, and the ricotta mixture in a large bowl. Mix all ingredients together until quinoa is completely coated and the egg and flour are completely mixed in.
Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and allow to heat for 3-4 minutes.
Using your hands make patties out of the quinoa mixture (TIP*-I found that they stayed together more if I made them a little thinner).
Working in two groups cook the patties. Place half of your patties (about 5) in your large frying pan. Allow to cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until slightly browned. Remove and add another 1 tbsp of olive oil and repeat the same process.
To finish off your quinoa cakes add a spoonful of the remaining spinach pesto to the top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
I hope you enjoy these…and National Spinach Day!