Parmesan Quinoa Cakes with Homemade Pesto

  • Posted on: July 16, 2013

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OR with Homemade Marinara and Whipped Feta.

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Before I go into this recipe I have to share some photos from my hike this morning.  I mean, come on.   They don’t call Crested Butte the wildflower capital of Colorado for nothing.

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This was our camping spot last weekend at the blue mesa where we played in rafts and hung out with friends all weekend.   And then we came home to a beautiful rainbow!

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Flowers, farmer’s markets, camping, hiking, outdoor music concerts and rafting have been filling up our summer.   I have missed several Sunday Farmer’s Markets because we have been camping.   Max asked me about them the other day.  He likes to go and get treats and it’s nice to know everything is organic and free of dyes.  A coupel local moms started a great Popsicle stand where they make homemade fresh fruit pops and they put a cucumber slice on the bottom of the stick so it doesn’t drip.   I mean really.  How cute is that?

I think our market might have more food vendors than farmers selling fresh produce but the vendors are making delicious and healthy fare.

The other week when I was there, I was waiting for the chef to cook the falafals  for my falafal plate and saw him fry them in a big pot of oil.  I though, well, there goes my healthy lunch. I looked down at the big pot of oil and I wondered what kind of oil he was using.   I debated in my head for a moment if I should ask him- and wondering if at this point if I even wanted to know.  I had, after all  just paid a good amount for a plate of greens, hummus and falafal so I was going to eat it either way.   Is ignorance bliss?  I decided to ask.   When he told me we was using organic coconut oil I was surprised.  And relieved.

A few years ago I probably wouldn’t have given a thought about the oil that was being used to cook food I was going to put into my body.   I used to always have a bottle of canola oil in my cabinet and used it for baking.  But when he said Organic Coconut Oil, I smiled.  It is the healthiest oil he could be frying my food in.

If you want to read about oils and which ones are healthy to cook with and which can be toxic click here for an article from food matters, here for an article from Marks Daily Apple and here for an article from Integrative Medicine at University of Kansas Medical Center.

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Now for the recipe.  I first saw this on Mountain Mama Cooks  and I changed it up by adding some fresh basil, sauteed onions and gluten free flour.   I used quinoa flour but any gluten free flour would work here.   It is important to use freshly grated parmesan!  It makes a huge difference in taste.   I buy parmesan that actually comes from Italy- read your package.   A lot of Parmesan they sell at the store is made in Wisconsin and it just doesn’t taste the same.   The real deal parmesan is so good you can eat it on it’s own.  I have been known to slice a thin piece of parmesan and put a dab of honey on top and eat it.   And then slice another piece of parm  and put a dab of honey on top and eat it.  And then….you get the idea.

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These quinoa cakes could be topped with many different sauces.   I am giving you 3 of my favorites.   Homemade Pesto, homemade marinara and a whipped feta.  Whipped feta is really good.  I think Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, made it popular.  It’s your choice.  The whipped feta and marinara go well together.

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From start to finish this recipe takes about 30 minutes to make but there are a couple steps you can do ahead of time such as cook the quinoa and leave it in the fridge overnight or make any of the sauces and leave it in the fridge over night.

Recipes only tastes as good as it’s ingredients so use fresh ingredients whenever possible.

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Parmesan Quinoa Cakes with Homemade Pesto

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: About 20-25 cakes

Parmesan Quinoa Cakes with Homemade Pesto


  • 3 Cups Quinoa, cooked and cooled
  • 1 Cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 3 Farm Eggs
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1/4 Cup Basil, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Quinoa Flour (or any gluten free flour)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 TBSP Coconut Oil - separated
  • 1 Large Heirloom Tomato
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • 2 Handfuls of Fresh Basil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil -give or take
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan (or nutritional yeast if you are dairy free)
  • salt
  • 1/2 Cup Feta
  • 2 TBSP Cream Cheese


To Make Quinoa Patties

In a large pan (same pan you will use to pan fry the cakes) add 1 TBSP Coconut Oil and Saute onions over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and let onions cool.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs and parmesan cheese. Add the basil, gluten free flour, salt, pepper, quinoa and onions. Mix together. Form small patties.

You'll have enough patties to have to cook 2-3 rounds so start with adding about 1 1/2 TBSP Coconut Oil to the pan and cook each quinoa cake for a few minutes on each side, until nicely browned on each side. Repeat with remaining quinoa cakes.

Remove quinoa cakes and place on a plate with a paper towel to remove any excess oil.


In a pot of boiling water, cook tomato for about 1-2 minutes. Remove from water and peel off the skin.

In a very small saucepan, cover the bottom with oil and heat for a minute over medium flame. Add the garlic and cook for another minute of two, careful not to burn the garlic! Then I squeeze the tomato with my fist into the pan. This can get a little messy.

Cook for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.

For the Homemade Pesto-

In a Cuisinart, add the garlic, walnuts and basil and pulse for a minute. Add the olive oil, and salt and pulse about 10-15 times until it is well blended but not too smooth. Add the parmesan and give it another pulse or two.

For the Whipped Feta-

Take a chunk of feta and a few tablespoons of cream cheese and mix in a Vitamix or a Cuiniart. Scrape down the sides and whip for 4-5 minutes.


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  1. Temple · July 16, 2013 Reply

    I think I will have to make this tonight. YUM!

  2. bigjeff1 · July 24, 2013 Reply

    Hey, Louisa! Your lovely mom whipped these up last night and they were awesome!! Keep it up – even from the West Coast.

  3. Nikki · September 2, 2013 Reply

    Made these for dinner tonight, with the pesto, all on top of fresh heirloom tomatoes…woweeee!!!

    So excited continually for your recipes and look forward to each new post.

    Hugs to you and the family!

    • Luisa Naughton · September 4, 2013 Reply

      Hi Nikki, It’s so nice to hear from you! I am glad you enjoyed them and I hope to have some new recipes for you soon.
      I hope things are going well for you.
      Best, Luisa

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