Spring Onion and Quinoa Cakes with a Spicy Salbitxada Sauce

Spring Onion and Quinoa Cakes with a Spicy Salbitxada Sauce

Ottolenghi’s Quinoa cakes are originally made with ramps (wild garlic) which are prolific in England and very delicious. However here they are considered a noxious weed and so are not available. Ottolenghi suggests spring onions instead, and it is a good substitution.

It is also a recipe that uses eggs in the original version. As you know if you have been following along with our project of cooking from Plenty More, I  substitute chickpea flour, cream and eno for eggs in suitable recipes. You could add a little ground flaxseed too, for more “stickability” – in fact substituting the bread crumbs for ground flaxseed will make the dish gluten free. The result was still somewhat crumbly so make sure you have enough of the chickpea flour, and also that you squish the mixture together really well when making the patties. (The crumbly bits were very delicious too! See the note after the recipe.)

Ottolenghi makes a wonderful Salbitxada Sauce – a red capsicum and tomato spicy sauce thickened with ground almonds. We’ve had these also with our just-made Cumquat and Mango Chutney (made with Alphonso Mango puree, would you believe). I have included the instructions for the sauce in the recipe below because it is so good, but know that you can use any tomato, red pepper or spicy sauce (home made is best) or chutney.

We also made a Red Pepper and Mustard Seed sauce to go with the left overs. Another great sauce.

As you know, I have been working my way through Plenty More. Never one to keep up with fashion I haven’t joined the people feverishly cooking through Simple. I had intended to finish Plenty More within 12 months but found I had to take a break of some months within sight of the end. I was puffed out! Each of Ottolenghi’s recipes takes time and effort, and I just could not cook another one! Now I have resumed, but I will take it at a slower pace. Even this recipe has 7 (yes, seven) different processes – sauce: roast, blitz, boil, that’s 3, then fritters: cook, mix, fry, bake for a total of 7.

As mentioned, for this recipe, I have made it egg-free by replacing the eggs with a chickpea flour batter. If you prefer the original recipe, check here.

Similar recipes include Crispy Couscous and Saffron Cakes, Quinoa Porridge with Tomatoes, Herb and Walnut Fritters, and  Vegetable Cutlets.

Browse all of our Quinoa recipes and all of our Fritters. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Winter recipes.

Spring Onion and Quinoa Cakes with a Spicy Salbitxada Sauce

Spring Onion and Quinoa Cakes

250g quinoa
40g spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced, or use garlic scallions (1-bulb garlic)
1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
8 large Tblspn chickpea flour
2 Tblspn thick cream
0.5 tspn eno or 0.25 tspn baking powder
2 green chillies, deseeded and diced
120g ricotta or cottage cheese
30g parmesan cheese or mature cheddar, coarsely grated
60g breadcrumbs
2 tspn ground cumin
sea salt and black pepper
olive oil, for frying

1 large lemon, cut into wedges, or Salbitxada Sauce (see below)

If using the salbitxada sauce, make it now (recipe below), or prepare an alternative sauce, or you can just use lemon juice.

Heat the oven to 200C.

Bring a pan of water to a boil, add the quinoa and simmer for 9-11 minutes, until tender but with a bite. Strain, refresh with cold water, and set aside until completely dry.

Make the chickpea flour, cream and eno into a batter by adding water and mixing well. You are looking for a batter that is thick but just free flowing.

Mix the batter in a bowl with everything except the oil and lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Let the mixture sit for 10 – 20 mins.

Form the mixture into patties, about 3 – 4cm wide and 2 cm thick. Squash the mixture together hard in your hands before shaping – this will minimise the risk of them falling apart while cooking.

Heat half the oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Fry the patties in batches for 3 – 5 mins per side until well browned on each side, adding oil as needed. Transfer to a baking tray and finish off in the oven for about 9 minutes.

Leave them to cool for 5 – 10  mins – they will hold together better. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice, or with the salbitxada sauce spooned on top or alongside.

recipe notes and alternatives
If your patties do fall apart, never fear. Just keep toasting the crumble mixture until golden brown then serve with lemon or the sauce drizzled over. It is delicious! In fact, you could make it this way on purpose.

Spring Onion and Quinoa Cakes with a Spicy Salbitxada Sauce

Salbitxada Sauce

Salbitxada is a sharp and lightly sweet Catalan sauce that’s traditionally served with calçots – spring or salad onions, grilled whole, make a good substitute. That said, it’s a great finishing touch for other dishes, too. The recipe will probably give you more sauce than you need – keep it in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze.

I have made versions of this sauce every which way. I have used coconut instead of almonds – pinenuts and coconut too. I have used Italian passata instead of the tomatoes, garlic shallots instead of garlic. I have added herbs and spring onion greens too. It is a very versatile sauce – use whatever you have in the kitchen.

Spring Onion and Quinoa Cakes with a Spicy Salbitxada Sauce

1 red capsicum
2 red chillies
5 garlic cloves, skin on
40g flaked almonds, toasted
4 ripe tomatoes (400g), blanched, peeled and deseeded
2 tsp sherry vinegar
sea salt to taste
100ml olive oil

Heat the oven to 220C. Put the capsicum, chillies and garlic cloves on an oven tray and roast for 10 minutes. Remove the chillies and garlic, turn the red capsicum and roast for 20 minutes more. Once the skin is blistered and the capsicum roasted, put it in a bowl and cover with cling film. When cool, peel and deseed both the pepper and chillies, and peel the garlic.

Grind the almonds to a coarse powder in a food processor. Add the cooked capsicum, chilli, garlic and tomatoes, and whiz to a paste. Add the sherry vinegar and a pinch or two of salt, then slowly pour in the oil until you have a thick sauce.

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