Spinach and Leek Quinoa Cakes

Sorry for the lack of posting as of late. Between family visiting and being busy at work, lately I have come home exhausted and not very inspired to write. However, the fact that it's now light until 8:00 is helping, and the reappearance of leeks and ramps at the farmer's market is working wonders as well. I picked up some leeks the last time I was there, and was planning on making a quiche lorraine, but decided that these quinoa cakes would be decidedly better for my waistline and would help with my spring resolution to eat healthier. The quiche will have to wait for another day. Spinach and Leek Quinoa Cakes (makes 10-12)

1 cup quinoa

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon butter

3 large leeks, thinly sliced

8 oz spinach, washed and roughly chopped

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil, as needed

In a small saucepan, bring the quinoa and broth to boil. Reduce to simmer, and cook, covered, until quinoa absorbs all of the broth, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. When almost done, add spinach and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Add vegetables to quinoa and mix well. Add parmesan cheese and mix.

Coat sauté pan with vegetable oil and heat over medium. Mix breadcrumbs and panko together on a large plate. Form quinoa mixture into patties, using about 1/2 cup per patty. Coat well with breadcrumb mixture, then sauté until browned on each side, 4-5 minutes. Repeat with remaining mixture. Top with additional parmesan cheese, if desired.

Quinoa with Squash, Apples, and Goat Cheese

I confess, I had never eaten quinoa until a couple of years. And I feel kind of bad every time I eat it since its new popularity in the US has made the price skyrocket in places that use it as a dietary staple like South America. However, I still love it. With more flavor and texture than rice, not to mention health benefits, you can make an entire meal by mixing it with a few vegetables. And of course, a dash (or a whole log) of goat cheese. Which clearly makes everything better. Quinoa with Squash, Apples, and Goat Cheese (serves 4-6)

1 large butternut or kabocha squash, halved and seeds removed

1 apple, cored and cut into 1/2 in pieces

1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups quinoa

3 cups chicken broth

2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet and roast until very tender, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft and beginning to brown at the edges, about 8 minutes. Stir in quinoa and broth, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. reduce heat to simmer, and cook, covered, until quinoa has absorbed broth, about 15 minutes.

When squash is done, cut off the skin and cube into one inch pieces. Toss with squash, then add apples and walnuts. Season with salt and pepper, then top with goat cheese.