Mar 26

Baked Quinoa Cakes Recipe with Dried Tart Cherries & Pistachios


Baked quinoa cakes with a creamy basil yogurt sauce are a healthy and delicious appetizer. Dried tart cherries and pistachios add a hint of sweetness and crunch. Thank you to Choose Cherries for helping me to share this recipe with you..
Baked Quinoa Cakes Recipe with Tart Cherries & Pistachios| #vegetarian #recipe

My husband is the most dedicated “night before” meal-maker I know. Every night he puts together a container of leftovers for his lunch and Greek yogurt with berries and whole wheat bread with peanut butter for his snacks. But it’s the bowl of cereal that is the real work of art. Raisin bran and GoLean cereals are topped off with scoops of chia seeds and ground flax meal and a handful of raw nuts and dried tart cherries. It’s a nutritionist’s dream in a bowl!

Baked Quinoa Cakes Recipe with Tart Cherries & Pistachios| #vegetarian #recipe

Of course, he has to actually get his hands on the dried cherries before the kids eat all of them. They get a kick out of smashing them together with raw cashews and tossing them into the air, attempting to catch them in their waiting mouths…like a couple of baby birds.

Baked Quinoa Cakes Recipe with Tart Cherries & Pistachios| #vegetarian #recipe

Amidst all of this cherry-tossing behavior, I choose to keep quiet on the health benefits of this sweet and tart snack. The kids don’t need to know that tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, which helps to regulate sleep patterns. They’d probably think I was trying to “regulate” their bedtime to half an hour earlier. Shhh…that will be our secret.

Baked Quinoa Cakes Recipe with Tart Cherries & Pistachios| #vegetarian #recipe

As much as I appreciate the effects of natural melatonin supplies, I am even more swayed by recent studies that indicate that the powerful antioxidants in cherries can play a role in reducing inflammation. As someone who has arthritis running in her gene pool, that is very good news. In fact, it makes me want to join in on the cashew-cherry tossing game.

Baked Quinoa Cakes Recipe with Tart Cherries & Pistachios| #vegetarian #recipe

The vain side of me (you know, the one that causes me to suck my stomach in every time I pass a mirror…tell me I’m not the only one) jumps for joy when I hear that the cardiovascular benefits related to cherries includes loss of belly fat, which is the type of fat most commonly associated with heart disease. My body shape is an “apple” through and through, so belly fat is something that I have to watch, especially as I get older and that belly stubbornly wants to stick around.

Baked Quinoa Cakes Recipe with Tart Cherries & Pistachios| #vegetarian #recipe

Now, let’s get down to the recipe. We use quinoa in every which way in our house, from chicken quinoa soup to turkey zucchini quinoa meatballs. We even freeze the protein-packed grain so that we can use it at a moment’s notice.

One thing I had never done was to make quinoa patties or cakes. And now that I see how easy and delicious they are, I’m wondering what took me so long.

The base recipe comes from Heidi Swanson’s wonderful blog, 101 Cookbooks. I made significant changes to the flavor and texture by add some crunch with chopped pistachios and tart sweetness with a handful of dried cherries. Each quinoa cake is topped with a dollop of basil yogurt sauce, which has a garlicky kick and light herbal flavor.

If you prefer, pan-fry the quinoa cakes in a skillet with a teaspoon or so of olive oil. Either way, you will get a crisp, golden brown crust that belies the tender, moist insides of the cake.

To learn more about the benefits of eating tart cherries and for more recipe ideas, check out their site, Choose Cherries and follow them on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Other recipes with dried cherries:

Dried Cherries Recipes |
Cookin’ Canuck’s Dried Cherry & Orange Cranberry Sauce
Cookin’ Canuck’s Glazed Lemon & Dried Cherry Quick Bread
Carrot or Cake’s Farro & Celery Salad with Ricotta Salata, Walnuts & Dried Sour Cherries
Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen’s Sauteed Spinach with Dried Cherries
Cooking & Beer’s Crispy Duck Salad with a Dried Cherry Compote

Baked Quinoa Cakes Recipe with Tart Cherries & Pistachios
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Calories 135.7 / Total Fat 3.5g / Saturated Fat 0.7g / Cholesterol 62.6mg / Sodium 79.0mg / Total Carbohydrates 18.5g / Fiber 2.1g / Sugars 3.7g / Protein 7.1g / WW (Old Points) 3 / WW (Points+) 3
Serves: Serves 12
The sauce:
  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup finely chopped basil
  • ⅛ tsp salt
The quinoa cakes:
  • ¾ cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachios, chopped
  • ⅓ cup dried tart cherries
  • 3 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • Water, if needed
The sauce:
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, basil and salt.
The quinoa cakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork, spread on a baking sheet and let cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the 2 ½ cups of the cooked quinoa, eggs, breadcrumbs, green onions, garlic, pistachios, cherries, feta cheese, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  4. The mixture should be fairly moist so they don't dry out when baking, but not too moist so that the cakes fall apart. Use extra water if the cakes are not moist enough.
  5. Using ¼ cup (packed) per quinoa cake, shape the quinoa mixture into a ¾-inch thick bake and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake until the quinoa cakes are golden brown on the bottom, 12 to 15 minutes. Carefully turn over and cook for 5 more minutes.
  7. Serve with the basil yogurt sauce.
From the kitchen of Cookin' Canuck |
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 quinoa cake + 1 tbsp sauce Calories: 135 cal Fat: Total Fat 3.5g / Saturated Fat 0.7g

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Choose Cherries . All opinions expressed are my own.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Living March 26, 2014 at 5:19 am

I’ve had quinoa cakes on my list to make – these are so pretty Dara – love the dried cherries!


2 Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness March 26, 2014 at 6:45 am

I didn’t know about cherries and melatonin! Thanks for that!
Feta, cherries and pistachios sounds like a deeeelish combo, and I am totally loving anything quinoa lately! Pinned


3 Meagan @ A Zesty Bite March 26, 2014 at 7:01 am

This is a great way to incorporate your fruits into a snack. Love this idea.


4 Jenny Flake March 26, 2014 at 7:12 am

I can’t wait to try these Dara! I can’t get enough quinoa these days, what a fun way to eat it!!


5 Katrina @ WVS March 26, 2014 at 9:15 am

This sounds like such a nice meal Dara! Love it!


6 Becky @ Project Domestication March 26, 2014 at 12:21 pm

I had a big handful of dried cherries yesterday. Now I’m thinking I need to restock my cashew stash. :)

These look great, the flavor combo and dipping sauce sounds perfect.


7 Becky March 26, 2014 at 10:01 pm

I’m making these soon! Si many of my favorite things in one bite!


8 Laura @ My Friend's Bakery March 27, 2014 at 8:48 am

Cherries are a definitely something people should work into their diets. Natural cherry juice (no sugar/sweeteners/artificial junk) from the health food store is a great way to do it, and it is a recommended daily juice if you have gout or any other inflammatory problems like arthritis. And it doesn’t taste bad either!
I think I’ll try these this weekend. Sounds perfect for Sunday brunch! Thanks!


9 Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic March 27, 2014 at 11:57 am

I am actually snacking on dried cherries right now – I love cherries. These little quinoa cakes look so great!


10 CarriesExpKtchn October 3, 2014 at 6:02 am

This recipe looks wonderful Dara. Thank you so much for sharing my Sauteed Spinach with Dried Cherries recipe, the cherries really added a nice flavor.


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