Mediterranean Quinoa Cakes with Goat Cheese Salad

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“Breathe. Just Breathe.” –Anna Nalick’s worthless advice on reducing stress 

This was not my birthday. I was just stressed and wanted to eat cake.

I am an incredibly high-stress person. Ironically, people often compliment me on how “laid back” I am. Congratulations to me! Clearly my low-maintenance beach waves* and sense of humor are successfully deflecting attention from my constant state of anxiety. Currently, I’m stressed about all kinds of things: my self-employment, what to wear to my best friend’s birthday party this weekend, the fact that I’m not famous yet, etc. Everyone around me also seems to be anxious about something in their lives. My roommate is looking for a job, my friend is panicking about her relationship, and according to facebook, everyone in the country is stressed about America’s future.

Recently, I decided to take the bull by the horns and do something about my anxiety. By this I mean I googled “ways to reduce stress.” I immediately ruled out the things that didn’t appeal to me (i.e. exercise, meditation, and drinking tea), but I was intrigued by the “eat good foods” recommendation that I kept seeing. Did I forget to mention before that I’m a stress-eater? Well I am, and I know a lot of you probably are too. Food is comforting. This is the truth.

Unfortunately, most people tend to take down the wrong foods when stressed. In fact, a friend emailed me on Monday saying that she was having a breakdown and she was going to eat marshmallows and popcorn for dinner if I didn’t send her a recipe immediately. This stressed me out. (It was a lot of pressure.) But it also got me thinking about stress-reducing recipes. Cooking something delicious to lower anxiety is definitely more fun than “visualizing yourself being relaxed,” right? So, I googled “foods that decrease stress.” I wasn’t psyched about the results, but I managed to find some good stuff to work with, including quinoa, chickpeas, and greens. The result: Mediterranean quinoa cakes with goat cheese salad.


Truth be told, I was actually going to make a quinoa salad, and I overcooked the quinoa. But instead of crying over mushy quinoa, I made quinoa cakes. I thought this was both resourceful and an excellent example of “not sweating the small stuff.” I’m making progress already. Turns out that overcooking the quinoa was actually a blessing in disguise, since these crispy little nuggets are the best creation I’ve come up with in a while.

You’re probably thinking, “Eff you, I don’t want quinoa and salad when I’m freaking out about my life! I want bacon macaroni and cheese and a tray of brownies.” I hear you, but you know what? Getting fat also stresses me out. Plus it’s almost holiday party season. Therefore, friends, we all need to re-think our choices of comfort food.** And these quinoa cakes really do hit the spot. Don’t trust me? I fed them to my roommate who is the ultimate stress-eater and a self-proclaimed food critic. He loved them and even asked for seconds, which I happily gave him because these babies are Dude Diet approved.

Dude loves quinoa cakes.

Cooking for one like I asked you to last week? Excellent (I love it when people listen to me)! Keep the leftover patties in the fridge and cook them whenever you like. Top a patty with an egg and you’ve got a dope breakfast option. Throw it on a whole wheat English muffin with avocado, lettuce, and tomato and get down with a badass veggie burger! Be creative. The possibilities are endless…

*These beach waves are actually incredibly high maintenance.  There is a blow-dryer AND a curling iron involved.

**You should probably have a brownie though. Dark chocolate is good for stress. I googled it.

Mediterranean Quinoa Cakes with Goat Cheese Salad: (Serves 4)

Ingredients for your quinoa cakes:
1 cup quinoa
½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 tbsp red onion, minced
2 tbsp scallions, finely chopped
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
¾ tbsp salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
For your salad:
1 container/large bag mesclun (about 8 cups)
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
For the dressing:
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


Preparing your quinoa cakes:

-Bring quinoa and 2½ cups water to a boil in a small pot. Lower to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is cooked well. The quinoa should be mushy. Mix the quinoa vigorously in the pot until the grains break up and it starts to clump.


-Transfer the quinoa into a mixing bowl and let it cool.

-In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and red onion. Allow this mixture to sit for about 10 minutes to soften the garlic and take the bite out of the red onion.


-Add the chickpeas, red bell pepper, scallions, and the red onion mixture to the quinoa. Mix well and season with fresh ground pepper to taste.

-Mold the quinoa mixture into patties. (You can make them any size you want! I like smaller for this salad, but large “burgers” work well too). Place the patties on a plate, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.


-Heat 2 tbsp olive oil and cook the cakes until golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes on each side.


Preparing your salad:

-Place mesclun in a large bowl.

-In a small bowl mix all of the ingredients for your lemon vinaigrette.

-Pour vinaigrette over the greens and toss.


*Arrange salad on a plate and sprinkle with 2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese. Place quinoa cakes on top of the salad. Voila! Sit back, relax, and enjoy your new favorite comfort food.


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