Vibrant, crispy, vegan Garlicky Zucchini Quinoa Cakes make a perfect brunch or snack. This recipe is low-fat, gluten-free and nut-free.
I don't think I can ever eat or cook something without rekindling a beloved memory. A fresh, pink-red pomegranate reminds me of my mum, who loved this fruit. One of the few clear memories I have of her (she died when I was seven) is of her sitting on a chair looking out to the street in front of our Bombay flat, my brother and I perched on either arm, eating juicy pomegranate seeds and looking out into a dribbling rain as we waited for my father to come home from work.
Slathering butter on a slice of wholegrain bread reminds me of the time Desi and I went scouring through Thane, a suburb of Bombay where we lived after marriage, for wholegrain bread. In the India of the 90s, people still ate sliced white bread bought from the corner store in wax-paper packets, like Modern and Wibs, and brown bread was strictly for the nuts. We finally did find the bread, right under our noses, at a new bakery not a block from our flat, but we'd have to preorder it because it wasn't much in demand and the person baking it, for understandable reasons, did not want to bake up a batch that no one would buy. It was so expensive that the storekeeper, perhaps afraid we would forget about it, would actually deliver it to our home the minute it landed.
Every time I cut up some mushrooms, which is often in my kitchen, I remember the first time I ate them. My father had just brought some wild mushrooms (very rare in India in my childhood) from a trip to Belgaum, a city in south India, and my stepmother cooked them up into a spicy, rich, and delectable mushroom curry. With that recipe, she made me, forever, a lover of this vegetable that so many people love to hate, a testament to the power of great cooking.
Now that I am a mother, I think about building memories with my child, and not surprisingly, it often lands right back at food. I am pretty sure these Garlicky Zucchini Quinoa Cakes will end up in Jay's "good memories" roster. The way he sees it, they are crunchy and crispy and they taste divine. The way I see it, they are healthy and vibrant with quinoa, zucchini, scallions, and potatoes. Together, we had a terrific time tucking into them.
These cakes are also garlicky and fragrant with oregano, an herb I love but don't use in my kitchen often enough. Part of the reason for that is I am an accomplished oregano killer.
Last year, I bought home an oregano seedling from the nursery, left it standing out in the harsh summer sun for too long without any water, and it dried up on me. At the Humane Society of the United States, where I work, a green-thumbed coworker brings in fresh vegetables and fruits and sells them for a small price to raise money for one of our animal protection programs. One day in late summer she brought in oregano seedlings. I happily put my donation in the jar and swore to its sweet little face that I wouldn't kill it. Never, ever, never, never, never. It was too late in the year to plant it outdoors, so I put it in a pot, left it on a window sill, watered it religiously for a few days, and when winter came, I forgot all about it. A couple of weeks later, it was bye, bye sweet oregano plant.
But I'm not giving up. I do have another oregano in the yard this year, and I am not going to let it die. Especially now that I have this wonderful recipe to put it into.
As precious as the oregano is, you can try this recipe with another herb, like parsley or thyme or rosemary or even basil. Each would add a little something extra and make another great memory.
Do you have a food memory to share? I wanna hear it. Tell me what food kicks up the most memories for you, and why.
Vegan Garlicky Zucchini Quinoa Cakes recipe:
Vegan Garlicky Zucchini Quinoa Cakes
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- ¼ cup rice flour
- 1 medium zucchini (grated and placed in a bowl with ¼ teaspoon of salt. Squeeze out the zucchini after 15 minutes but reserve the water.)
- 2 scallions (very finely minced)
- 1 tablespoon oregano (minced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 serrano or jalapeno peppers (minced. Use less and deseed for less heat)
- 1 medium russet potato, boiled and peeled, then mashed or grated
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. If the mixture is too dry to hold, add some of the water you squeezed out of the zucchini.
- Form into small cakes. I like to make these rather small so they get really crispy.
- Coat a large skillet or griddle with the oil.
- When the oil's hot, add the cakes in a single layer, leaving at least an inch between each, and cook in batches, flipping over when each side is golden and crispy.
- Serve hot by itself or with some chutney.
Really delicious! Thank you for this recipe.
I have pre grated zucchini in my freezer from an abundance from my garden. do you have an estimate of how many cups per zucchini in this recipe? I freeze my zucchini in 1 cup portions.
Can these be frozen? Can you suggest other recipes that can be frozen? Thanks
These were absolutely delicious! I definitely bookmarked! Thank you for your recipes!! 🙂
Do the quinoa burgers have to be pan fried? Can they be baked in the oven after being oil sprayed?
What can I substitute for the rice flour? I don't have any, but have everything else on on hand and want to make these ASAP.
I am just about 2 months vegan and am thrilled with all of your recipes.
Hi Lesley, use chickpea flour, same amount - should work well with this, although the flavor will be a little different.
My fondest memories of food is my grandmother's "coconut date cake". That's how she used to call it, although I discovered not so long ago that its real name is "Queen Elizabeth cake". And basically I loved everything my grandma baked. She's the one who showed me how to mix a cake, as my own mother would not let me enter the kitchen (I think it was her kingdom, that's how it used to be in the 60s LOL)...
Anyway, I'm new to your blog and I love your recipes. I'm planning to try a few this weekend. I also sent the link to my daughters who love Indian food and every food with spices and veggies in it!
Hi Chantal, your grandma's coconut date cake sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing your memories. And thanks for your kind words about the blog-- I hope you'll try out some recipes.
What a lovely post. My fondest memories of food revolve around my late father's antipasto that he would make every Christmas. It was a magnificent creation that would take him hours to put together, rolling cold cuts and cutting up cheeses and pickles and then garnishing everything with roasted peppers and several types of olives. By the time we finished digging into that, we hardly had any room for my mother's lasagna which took her a full two days to make what with the homemade sauce and the hundreds of tiny meatballs.
Joan, as the daughter of a father who also loved to spend time in the kitchen doing things just so, that story made me smile. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your memories. Your mom's lasagna sounds like a treat. If you ever make a vegan version, I'd love to hear about it.
Vaishali, thanks for your recipe. Btw, I'm an ardent Mumbai lover living here in the USA. Can I supplement the rice flour with Namaste GF Flour?
Hi Carmen, the GF flour should work. Sorry for the late reply, and hope you tried it anyway.
Hello! I only have all purpose flour - would that work?
Yes, that's fine!
Congratulations! Your blog post was featured in the Collectives on Feb 18, 2016 at Blogadda.
Please find it here:
Kris in Oregon
Vaishali - Thank you for your moving post and this great recipe. I'm very excited to have found your site! I'm a mom in Oregon and wonder if my daughter will ever remember my labors in the kitchen with love . . Oh! I'm also going to eat a pomegranate today because of your mom's inspiration. Warm thanks again -
🙂 Kris, that is so lovely-- hope you enjoyed the pomegranate. 🙂 Sending lots of love and good thoughts your way.
They are delicious. Just finished making them. Thank you for this delicious healthy recipe.
Deborah, so glad you tried them!
Meg @ Noming thru Life
Mmm... you had me at garlicky 😉 And I love a good quinoa patty/cake any way.
What a beautiful post Vaishali! I've been looking for quinoa patty recipes- so I'm glad to have found this today!! I recently made a black bean and quinoa burger which was much loved (mostly by me- I ate most of them before they made it to anybody else's plate..:)). I am definitely bookmarking this one.
I love getting glimpses of Jay's reaction to the food you make. One of my dreams has been of my kids' saying, when they are older " Oh that wonderful kale sabji that Amma used to make"..But I am starting to give up up on that dream lol - my (toddler) son mostly wants to eat pasta (even though it is brown rice or whole wheat pasta..but still.), so I try to use pureed veggies in the sauces. He does love raw carrots and steamed/sautéed peas (touch wood!), so maybe there is hope :D.
I am not sure if this is my first time commenting. I usually compose mental comments when I read your posts- but I am not sure if I actually end up posting them. So I thought I'd delurk this time and tell you how much I enjoy your posts!..:)
Hi Lavanya, quinoa is great burger stuff! I add it to burgers too, all the time, and it always makes me feel a little health-goddessy. 🙂
LOL on the kale subzi, but you never know, right? I crave the chapatis my mom used to make, and I couldn't have cared less for them as a kid when she was making them for me.
Thanks for your kind words-- and for your comment. Happy you decided to delurk. 🙂
Is there any alternative to using potato?
Sweet potato would work. Would taste a little different of course.
Whole Plant Fueled Adventure
Those look absolutely delicious! I like that there's some potato in them too. 😉
The potato does make them extra special! 🙂
What can be used instead of potato!
Lovely post, Vaishali! Food memories are so powerful indeed. These days okra is in season, and pan-fried okra (dredged in besan) always reminds me of my late grandma who made talleli bhendi with varan bhaat. The simplest and most sublime meal, to me.
What a lovely memory of your grandma, Nupur. I am grateful to her for that amazing Dalimbay Bhat recipe from your blog that we all love in our home.