Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes with Lemon Mint Yogurt and Black Bean Salad

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes with Lemon Mint Yogurt and Black Bean Salad

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes

These turned out so well and made such a lovely healthy meal with the salad and sauce, some lightly steamed broccoli or asparagus on the side would be a nice addition too. I rarely cook with quinoa, in fact I think this is only my second post using it, but have to say a cake or patty is a great way to use it. I also don't normally have sweet potato about, buying it only at Thanksgiving for some reason but found myself with a large bag of sweet potatoes recently and thinking what to do with them.

Everyone seems to love sweet potato and black beans together and we have been having some really nice spicy sweet potato, black bean and kale stews lately but I wanted to try something else and came up with this. The cakes are quite simple and just spices, onion, sweet potato and quinoa, I was going to add the black beans to them but thought a simple black bean salad on the side would be nicer. I'm glad I did as I absolutely love that salad and will be making it again on it's own, another great addition to the salad repertoire!

The sauce is simply soy yogurt, lemon juice and zest and fresh mint and goes perfectly with the spiced cakes. The idea though was that it would be a coolant to what was supposed to be a spicy cake but in the end mine were quite mild. Next time I would double the amount of chilli flakes and cayenne but I will post the original recipe here as they were still delicious without the heat and you can adjust to your own tastes.

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes - makes 4 large cakes

100g quinoa, dry weight
500ml water
1 stock cube, I used Kallo Organic Vegetable
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and grated - I had 200g once grated
1 large onion, diced fine - about 150g
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp red chilli flakes
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp salt
fresh parsley, chopped

Rinse the quinoa really well and bring 500ml of water and the stock cube to a boil. Add the quinoa, stir, cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 - 25 minutes, or until the stock is almost all absorbed, you don't actually want to cook the quinoa 'properly' here, it's essential it's slightly overcooked and dare I say, mushy? Reason being it's this mushiness that helps the cakes bind, the second time I made this I did cook the quinoa properly, so that it was fluffy with separated grains and the cakes did NOT hold together like they did this time, bit of a nightmare flipping ;-)

Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes then stir with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool, give it a stir now and again so it doesn't stick together.

Wash and peel the sweet potato then grate. I used a food processor with the grating attachment but you can do this with a hand grater. I then swapped the grater attachment for the blade and pulsed the sweet potato a few times just to chop up the strands, it makes it easier to make the cakes later if they are not so long, again, you can do this by hand with a knife. Finely chop the onion, mince the garlic and measure out your spices.

Heat the olive oil in a large wok and add the sweet potato and onion, fry over medium to low heat until the onions are soft and transparent and the sweet potato is soft and cooked, they should also change colour to a softer yellow, about 10 minutes. When they are cooked add the garlic and spices and fry gently for 2 minutes. If you find the mixture dry and you have some spices cooked on the wok, add a splash of water to deglaze. 

Add this to the quinoa with some chopped fresh parsley and give it good stir, the mixture should be thick but fairly wet, something you won't think you can make patties with but it's ok, we're doing the bake then fry method here ;-)

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Fill a 1/2 cup measure with the mixture, patting down slightly then invert onto the baking sheet. Using a fork gently press down on the mound to make a 1" thick large patty.  Repeat with the remaining mixture, you should get 4 large cakes out of this. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, remove and carefully flip over, they will still be soft at this stage but you should be able to flip them, albeit carefully. Bake for another 15 minutes for the other side.

**Note, this is the same bake and fry method I have used for the Gardenburger recipe and there are step by step photos in that post for it. I also used the same method for the Curried Carrot, Zucchini and Almond Feta Fritters. It's a great method to get egg-less burgers to hold their shape and be fried :-)**

Now that they can hold their shape you can fry them, of course you can eat them now but they both taste and look better fried. Heat 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and simply fry on both sides until crisp and golden. They are already hot and cooked, you just want to crisp up the outside.

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes

That's it! We loved these with the lemon mint yogurt sauce and the black bean salad but I also had a leftover cake, gently reheated on a dry non stick pan, sliced in half and placed in a wholewheat pitta with the yogurt sauce and baby spinach and rocket - delicious!! (They would be nice in a wrap too but would be too soft for a burger bun.)

Wholemeal Pitta with a Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Patty and Lemon Mint Yogurt

Black Bean Salad - serves 2 or 3

150 - 200g drained and rinsed tinned black beans (for me it's one 400g tin)
1/2 onion, diced fine
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lime or lemon juice
little lime or lemon zest
freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl add the olive oil then slowly add the vinegar, whisking all the while until it is emulsified, add the lemon or lime juice and whisk well, then add the salt and zest and mix well.

In a frying pan heat up a little olive oil, about a teaspoon and add the onion, bay leaf, clove and a grinding of black pepper until the onion is soft and transparent. Add the ground cumin and garlic and gently fry for another minute. Remove the bay leaf and whole clove.

Transfer to a bowl and add the black beans, give the dressing another whisk then pour over, toss well then leave to marinade and cool down in the fridge for a couple of hours.

**Edit: I just made this salad again with lime zest and juice instead of the lemon and a shallot instead of onion, all fantastic changes and stuffed the salad into a warm wholewheat pitta with some baby spinach - beautiful!**

Lemon-Mint Yogurt Sauce

130g plain soy yogurt, about 1/2 cup
2 tsp lemon juice
bit of lemon zest
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

Simply whisk all together.

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cake with Lemon Mint Yogurt and Black Bean Salad

You know, recipe development isn't always straightforward!
~Click to Enlarge~

Nutritional Information: 

Spiced Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cake - based on 1 cake prior to frying as it will vary depending on                               how much oil you use.

Calories: 192
Protein: 4.8g
Fat: 5.1g
Sat Fat: 0.7g
Carbs: 30.4g
Sugars: 3.7g
Fibre: 3.8g
Sodium: 478mg (depending on stock cube used)
Calcium: 37.8mg

Black Bean Salad - whole recipe

Calories: 270
Protein: 9.7g
Fat: 14.6g
Sat Fat: 2g
Carbs: 32.1g
Sugars: 3.5g
Fibre: 8.8g
Sodium: 1102mg
Calcium: 81.7mg

Lemon Mint Yogurt - this will pretty much just be the nutritional information on your brand of soy yogurt.

You Might Also Like:

Curried Carrot, Zucchini and Almond Feta FrittersVeganized Mushroom Gardenburger


  1. I use quinoa a lot but I almost never eat sweet potatoes. I have to admit that I don't like them that much and never know what to do with them. But your cakes sound so awesome and I think I am going to give them a try. Beautiful pictures, by the way.

  2. Thanks Mihl :-) This post has reminded me I should have quinoa more often!

  3. Do you have calorie and nutritional counts?

  4. Yes, will be posting soon :-)

  5. Oh, thank you! :D

  6. Do these freeze well? And would you freeze before or after frying? :)

  7. I actually have some in the freezer right now! I froze them before frying, imagine they will reheat just fine but I will get back to you when I do :-)

  8. Hi, I am having a really difficult time converting the measurments. What is the best way to do this? Thanks for you posts, I love your site!!

  9. hi Juju! Sorry for posting your comment so late, I just saw it now. This is a good conversion site:


    Is there any weight in particular you are wondering about? I am trying now to post both weights and cups, so future posts should be easier :-)

    Glad you like my blog! ♥

  10. Thanks for a great recipe! I just made these, along with some black bean salad (with fresh mint and lime juice) and a few crumbles of your almond feta. *so good*!

  11. So glad you liked them! Thanks for letting me know :-)

  12. Just made this, and it is so flavorful! Unfortunately my patties didn't stick together but I cooked it fully through and baked them then just put the quinoa/black bean salad in a bowl and ate it that way and it's fantastic! Love that the quinoa gets crunchy in the oven.

  13. So glad you liked it Candace! Sorry they didn't stick together though....but good call on just eating it all together - great idea!


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