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Spinach, Fava Bean and Quinoa Cakes

This is one of those happy stories about necessity, motherhood, and invention. Don’t you love those stories? Last week we arrived home after a couple of weeks away and needed to put together a dinner before we had a chance to go grocery shopping. I said to myself what I always say in these situations (probably out loud, too, since that’s how this crazy lady rolls these days). Helloooooo, pantry and freezer, I said. Helloooooo. I found frozen spinach and fava beans, dry quinoa, some still-totally-edible garlic, and a bevy of ground spices lying in wait. I also found that my mind wanted to wander toward a memory of some delicious little griddle cakes that I’d once made from the extremely memorable cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. Twenty minutes later, I found my hands immersed in a perfect storm of some of my favorite healthy foods. Let me tell you, there’s no place my hands would rather be. And yours?

Carolyn xx

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Vegan Spinach, Fava Bean, and Quinoa Cakes

Preparation 45 min Cook Time 15 min Total Time 1:00

These little green superfood bombs are great with just a squeeze of lemon but would also work well with some jazzed up Greek yogurt as a dipping sauce. And while they're a fitting one-dish dinner for four, they'd also work really well as finger food at a party with, say, a bunch of gluten-free vegans invited. Makes approximately 30 small cakes.


  • 2 pounds frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 3 cups fresh or thawed frozen fava beans
  • 4 1/2 cups cooked quinoa*
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • Olive oil for pan-frying
  • Lemon wedges for serving


  • Squeeze out as much water from the spinach as possible and place spinach in a large mixing bowl.
  • Fill a medium pot halfway with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the fava beans and cook for two minutes. Drain. Place fava beans (including skins, if you like) in a food processor and pulse until a coarse puree forms. Add the puree to the mixing bowl.
  • Add the quinoa, garlic, salt, cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, and pepper to the bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon or with your hands to combine thoroughly. Taste for seasoning.
  • Form the mixture into small patties, 2 to 3 tablespoons each, and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
  • Coat the bottom of a wide, heavy skillet with olive oil and warm over medium heat until it shimmers. Cook the cakes in batches, without crowding, until golden brown on the underside, and then flip and cook until the second side is golden as well. Place on a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon slices.
  • by

    Recipe Notes

  • * To make 4 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, combine 1 1/2 cups well-rinsed raw quinoa with 2 1/4 cups water and a pinch of fine sea salt in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, until water is absorbed. Let rest for 5 minutes before continuing.


    Hi there, I'm Carolyn, and I'm delighted you're here. I'm a NYC-area food, travel, yoga, coffee, wine, running, music making and book obsessive with a great family and a love for sharing it all with you. Grab a drink and come on in. Learn more.