Test Kitchen: Quinoa Cakes with Black Bean Salad

By Rachel Priebe, Nutritional Sciences student, Sargent College

Every Wednesday Karen Jacobs EdD, OTR/L, CPE, FAOTA hosts the Sargent Choice Test Kitchen in Stuvi 2 Apt. 2302 from 8-11pm. She invites the BU community into her home to test new Sargent Choice recipes while we cook, drink tea, and watch the Red Sox win the World Series.

First things first, GO SOX!! This week during our Test Kitchen we all got to experience the glorious 6-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, and it was quite the time.  The lovely recipes that we got to try out were just the icing on the cake.  Our two recipes were created by Executive Chef Adam Pagan from the 100 Bay State Road dining hall, and we were all excited to see how they would turn out.  Our first recipe was for a quinoa cake with zucchini.  If you haven’t heard of quinoa, here’s a quick run down: it is a South American grain, a complete protein, and is loaded with iron and fiber.  Basically, it’s great and easy to find in any supermarket.

Making this recipe, we found that it works best to shred the zucchini instead of chopping it, as it leads to a better texture in the end result.  Also, I got a little crazy with the pepper grinder when adding it in, but the extra spiciness was found to be a good thing (this could also be accomplished through cayenne pepper or another spice if you don’t like black pepper).  We also decided that we didn’t want our quinoa cakes fried in oil, and instead we decided to bake them.  We baked them at 400°F for 25 minutes, flipping at the halfway mark.  This reduces the fat in the cakes and also makes the flavors more pronounced.

Along side our quinoa cakes we made a yummy black bean salad.  It was the easiest thing in the world to make, just lots of chopping and then lots of mixing.  The flavors complemented the cakes, and were also just great by themselves.  One student said she “couldn’t wait to put this in a burrito.”  One tip was discovered, and that is to rinse the fresh cilantro super well.  If you don’t do this, you might end up with grit in your salad from how it was grown.

I was so impressed by these recipes that I thought I would reach out to Chef Pagan and see how he gets inspired to create new dishes.  He says that he loves to eat, so food is always on his mind.  He said that he likes cooking Sargent Choice recipes, as it helps debunk the allegations that in order for food to taste good you have to use a lot of sugar or added fat.  Chef Pagan has been cooking professionally for 18 years, and looks forward to many more I am sure.  Hope you all try these recipes and love it, and go Sox!

Quinoa Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 c. uncooked quinoa (mixing colors if you want, it makes them prettier)
  • ¼ c. diced onion
  • 1 small zucchini, shredded or finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ c. water mixed with 1 egg
  • 5-6 tbsp whole wheat flour

Quinoa Cake Directions:

  1. Place quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse very well several times in cold water. Drain well.
  2. Boil 1 ½ c. of water in a pot, add quinoa.  Cover with lid and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes until all water is absorbed.
  3. Mix together all ingredients in large bowl.  The consistency should be just right to form patties.  It will be a little sticky, you might need to add more flour if it is falling apart.
  4. Heat a few tbsp. oil in a skillet on medium heat.
  5. Drop patties into oil and sauté on each side until golden brown.
  6. Let rest on a paper towel, serve immediately.

Black Bean Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 15-oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ c. frozen corn, thawed
  • 3 green onions (white and green parts), sliced thinly
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 3 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro, leaves stripped and minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

Black Bean Salad Directions:

  1. Fold all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Refrigerate if not serving immediately.


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