Sunday, October 05, 2014

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Cakes with Chipotle Aioli and Micro Greens

I pretty much hate "veggie burgers." It's not for a lack of trying. My taste buds have endured one too many "chikn" patties that taste worse than the box they come in. My heart goes out to vegetarians and vegans everywhere. You people have had to endure a lot of lousy stuff for the sake of your choices.

These kind of mock versions of meat-type dishes may be the reason why more people don't try a vegetarian meal now and again. Or even venture to a "healthy" option. 

The best approach to vegetarian cooking, for me at least, is when I just focus on how to make the vegetables taste good instead of creating any veggie version of a meat item. You're not fooling anyone, right? So why not just make something that tastes good.

I seriously considered NOT stating that this recipe is vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. There's just too much "cardboard" flavor associations with those terms. Let's just say it's good. It's easy. It's healthy.

And leave it like that.

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Cakes with Chipotle Aioli and Micro Greens

2 cups cooked sweet potatoes (about 1 and a quarter lbs. raw), mashed well
2 cups cooked quinoa
4 oz. (half can) canned black beans
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1/2 small red onion diced finely
1 small or 1/2 large red pepper diced finely
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. smoked paprika
Canola (non-GMO) for pan searing

Chipotle Aioli
Mix together:
1/4 cup Vegan mayo, or regular mayo
2 Tbs. Chipotle sauce, get a good one for this

3 cups micro greens or baby lettuces

Heat 1 tsp. canola in a saute pan. Saute the pepper, onion and garlic until lightly browned. The cakes are not cooked for a long time, so you want to sauté these now and not have that raw onion and pepper hard edge. Add the sautéed items to a mixing bowl.

Add the other ingredients. (You can peel, cube and steam the sweet potatoes, cook in peel in microwave or oven and scrape out flesh. Whichever you have time for.) Mix these well to incorporate.

Shape into cakes. I like making two smaller ones because they stack nice on the plate. The recipe makes 12 servings or 24 appetizer-sized single cake courses. Did I mention these make good appetizers?

Heat more canola in the pan (you can wipe the pan out from before, no need to wash it and do that extra work). Sear the cakes about 2 minutes per side. 

To serve: Place a cake (or two small) on a plate. Add a tsp. of the chipotle aioli (fancy word for mayo), and top with micro greens.

Don't call it a burger or vegan, or healthy prior to serving.