Black Bean Quinoa Cakes

These cakes were inspired by a favorite black bean cake recipe: canned black beans get mixed together with sautéed bell pepper, onion, and garlic along with cilantro and bread crumbs. They’re dipped in cornmeal then pan-fried until crunchy on the outside, tender and spicy on the inside. As if they weren’t good enough on their own, they then get drizzled in a sauce that’s made from soy sauce, finely chopped jalapeno, garlic, and lime juice.

In this case, I was looking for an idea to make summer squash interesting. I was tapped out of ideas and we still had another 2 pounds of it left in the refrigerator. I thought that spicy, crunchy patties topped off with lightly sautéed green and yellow squash might just do the trick. I thought of those black bean cakes, but wanted more texture to contrast with the soft squash, so I swapped out the breadcrumbs for cooked quinoa and to vary the flavors, I added a palmful of yellow curry powder.

As it turns out, the quinoa was a brilliant switch! It crisped up in the hot oil adding a hearty crunch while the yellow curry added fragrance as well as a slight heat. The spice and variety of flavors was balanced with the sweetness of the squash. Yep, I think as far as finding a way to spice up squash, these black bean quinoa cakes definitely did the trick!

Note: I used freshly cooked quinoa and as a result, kept adding corn flour until I had a texture that worked for forming little cakes, but the result was a little on the dry side. I think one way to resolve the issue might be to use leftover quinoa so that it’s sat in the refrigerator and dried out on its own, kind of like how you should always use day old cooked rice for fried rice instead of fresh. Another idea might be to spread out cooked quinoa on a baking sheet and bake in a low temperature oven until the quinoa dries out a bit.

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced and divided (yields about 1.5 teaspoons total)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 can drained black beans
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup masa harina
  • 1 egg beaten
  • canola oil
  • 1 pound mix of yellow squash and zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

In a small skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add the onion, green pepper, and half of the garlic. Saute until vegetables are tender, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, add the quinoa, black beans, beaten egg, curry powder, cilantro, and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Add the cooled onion and pepper mix. Mix in 1/2 cup of masa harina and try forming into cakes. If it doesn’t hold its shape, gradually add remaining masa harina until you can form cakes that hold their shape. Form into 4 inch patties and dust both sides of each patty with more masa harina. Refrigerate patties for at least 1 hour.

In a large skillet, pour enough canola oil so that it rises about 1/4 inch above the bottom of the pan. Heat over medium high heat. When oil ripples, add half of the patties, careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes before flipping over and cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate while you cook the remaining patties. Season with additional salt if necessary while cooked cakes are still hot.

While cooking the patties, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the squash and remaining garlic and cook until squash is translucent and tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place black bean quinoa cakes on a plate and top with sautéed squash. Garnish with fresh basil. Yields 8 patties.

CSA Count: 5

Onion, green pepper, cilantro, basil, summer squash


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