Quinoa Cakes with Tomato and Pesto

Trust me when I say that basil quinoa cakes will naturally become the center of attention at any social gathering by being such an exquisite vegetarian delicacy. This recipe has moved on high on top of my all-time favorites list, and everyone just loves it! In fact, these basil quinoa cakes are so delicious that they deserve to be posted online again and again.

Normally, quinoa cakes are made with cheese for that extra flavor, but vegetarians and people with an intolerance for lactose can alter the original recipe slightly, replacing cheese with fresh basil to do the job. You can even make it completely gluten free by putting in breadcrumbs in the form of milled rice as compared to regular breadcrumbs. With a little ingredient change here and there, you can make it 100% vegan. Until then, the egg will simply have to stay because it binds the cakes so well like no other. If you have a basil plant by your windowsill or your vegetable garden, even better- the freshness really makes the quinoa cake pop. The quinoa’s earthiness really goes well with the smell and taste of fresh basil. Basil quinoa cakes garnished with tomatoes and pesto lend a classic Italian taste minus the staple ingredients of pasta and cheese. They are great crowd-pleasers, approved by grandma, the husband and the kids. You might be surprised to find these cakes eaten so fast, you may have to cook a double batch the next time!

This vegan pesto recipe can be made quickly for later consumption and frozen in smaller batches. Enjoy!

What You Need (Ingredients)

  • A cup of dry quinoa
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, or milled rice
  • Pesto and tomatoes to garnish
  • 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • A teaspoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation time – 20 minutes. Cooking time – 50 minutes. Serves 8 to 10 people


  1. Cook quinoa according to the labeled instructions written on the package, then set it aside from the heat.
  2. Mince onions, garlic and fresh basil, leaving a few leaves for later garnishing if preferred.
  3. Scramble 2 eggs in a small bowl. Add the freshly minced basil, garlic, onions and a dash of salt to the pot of cooked quinoa.
  4. Mix them all together in a large bowl, gradually adding in the breadcrumbs (or milled rice, for gluten free cakes) until the mixture has a thick consistency. Let the bowl sit for around 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Using your hands, shape the mixture into about 8 to 10 balls of cake. How large or how small will depend on your preference.
  6. Heat a pan and pour in the olive oil. Put in the dough balls and press them in to squish them flat, like pancakes about an inch thick.
  7. Fry the cakes in oil for around 5 minutes each side, or until the cake has been cooked through. The crust should be golden brown in color.
  8. Garnish with leftover basil leaves, chopped tomatoes and pesto. Voila! You may use your own vegan pesto recipe, or look one up online. The little basil leaf on top of each cake lends a festive effect and makes the cake look pretty!


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