I’m so happy to see some fresh asparagus at the grocery store again! So delicious, nutritious and easy to make, it’ll be making its way into my meals so frequently that I’ll probably be sick of it in a month.
I’m also excited that Top Chef is back. Drunk chefs and drama make for excellent television. Anyway, the contestant from New Zealand made a quinoa croquette a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been itching to copy him ever since. Since I’m averse to frying in the house (too messy!), I decided on a baked quinoa “cake” instead. I really liked the result. It was almost polenta-like, but nutty instead of, um, corn-y. I added some grated Manchego cheese on top and it came out of the oven nice and crisp.
In the meantime, I roasted some asparagus and turkey bacon and made a maple, shoyu and Sriracha sauce for that sweet, salty, spicy combination that paired really well with the smoky bacon.
I loved the quinoa cake, and can’t wait to try different flavors. This one was mostly cheese and chili powder, but I want to try out different flavors like lemon zest, fresh basil and mozzerella, sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan, etc. And I’m saving the leftovers for a poached eggs weekend breakfast. Can’t wait!
Quinoa Cake with Asparagus & Bacon Bits
For a vegetarian option, replace the bacon bits with a fried egg or some sauteed firm tofu.
For the quinoa cake:
8 oz. cooked quinoa (regular or red variety)
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk (I used skim)
2 oz. Manchego cheese, shredded
1 tbsp. salt
2 tsp. chili powder
6 slices turkey bacon (or regular), finely chopped
1 lb. asparagus
salt & pepper
olive oil for drizzling
For the sauce:
2 tbsp. maple syrup (Grade B is preferable)
1 tbsp. Shoyu (or soy sauce)
1 tsp. Sriracha
Preheat the oven to 375°. Mix the eggs, milk, chili powder and salt together in a large bowl, then add the quinoa and stir until everything is evenly distributed. Pour into a greased 9″ x 13″ baking pan, top with the grated cheese and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the inside is set and the top layer is crisp.
If you have 2 ovens, you can start roasting the asparagus. If you don’t, wait until the quinoa is done, then remove it and turn the temperature up to broil. Prepare the asparagus by snapping off the tough bottom parts and drizzling with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread the bacon out on a greased cookie sheet a place under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until it’s half done. Add the asparagus over the bacon at this point and broil for 5 more minutes. The bacon and asparagus should be brown and crisp at this point. Leave them under the broiler a bit longer if they’re not. You can also cook the bacon and asparagus in a large skillet if your oven is otherwise occupied. You just won’t get that nice browning effect on the asparagus.
While the asparagus is roasting, make the sauce by whisking the ingredients together.
To serve, cut the quinoa into 3″ x 3″ squares, top with a heap of asparagus, a good amount of bacon bits and a few drizzles of the sauce.