Quinoa Cakes with Smoked Salmon and Lime MayoI’m thrilled to report that it’s time for me to share another recipe from Maria Specks gorgeous book, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. This time up: Quinoa Cakes with Smoked Trout {or Salmon} and Lime Mayo. Oh, man. These are SO good!

Photo credit: Sara Remington Copyright 2011

This week’s category is “Burgers, Savory Cakes and More”, and the recipe I’m making is one that initially didn’t really catch my eye, but upon reading Maria’s mouthwatering description…

Moist chunks of smoked trout brightened with lime, serrano chili, and cilantro are a natural foil for the delicate flavor of quinoa…yet these whole grain cakes are so irresistible, I had to introduce them to you.

I knew I had to make it.

No. Questions. Asked.

Fact is, I’m a quinoa, cilantro, and spicy food {serrano chili} lovin gal.

Not to mention, that even though I don’t eat smoked fish too much due to the high sodium content {let’s just say water retention isn’t my favorite thing…}, it is one of my favorite savory treats to splurge on.

So, this recipe was definitely in order!

Before I share the recipe with you, let me introduce you to the wonderful world of quinoa, just in case this fabulous gluten-free grain has slipped under your nutritional radar…

The Scoop on Quinoa…

  • Naturally gluten-free grain.
  • Complete source of vegetarian protein, containing all essential amino acids. {1 cup of cooked quinoa contains ~ 6 grams of protein}
  • An excellent source of manganese, and a good source of magnesium, iron and copper.
  • A staple food of South American Indians for thousands of years, quinoa is technically not a grain, but instead is the seed of a plant that is related to leafy green vegetables like Spinach and Swiss chard.
  • Like millet, quinoa is extremely versatile and can be used in place of rice for pilafs, salads, and stuffing.  In addition to whole seeds, quinoa is available in flake and flour forms. Plus, you can eat quinoa leaves as well,  although I have never tried this before.
  • The United Nations has named quinoa a “supercrop” for its potential to feed millions of people, as it is drought resistant and an undemanding crop to grow.

Here’s the recipe…

Quinoa Cakes with Smoked Trout and Lime Mayonnaise


  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup quinoa, well rinsed and drained

Lime Mayonnaise

    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise {Or use 1/2 mayo and 1/2 Greek yogurt like I did to lighten it up.}
    • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
    • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest


    • 1/2 pound smoked trout, skinned and torn into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups) {I couldn’t find smoked trout, so I used smoked salmon instead.  I also made a few “vegetarian” cakes since I wasn’t sure my kids would eat the salmon}
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions, about 3
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 to 2 minced serrano chile {Remove veins and seeds for less heat.  I did NOT do this!}
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  1. To prepare the quinoa, bring the water and the quinoa to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan.  Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes.  Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl and spread to cool for about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the mayonnaise.  In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lime juice and zest, and the serrano chili.  Chill, covered, until ready to serve.
  3. To make the cakes, add all the ingredients except the olive oil to the bowl with the quinoa.  Using your hands, thoroughly combine, and squeeze the mixture to bring it together.
  4. Level the mixture inside the bowl and divide into 8 equal portions using a butter knife (cut in half like a cake, and then each half into quarters).  Moisten your hands with water and form cakes about 3 inches in diameter, pressing firmly to ensure they hold together.  Place the cakes on a small baking sheet or large plate.  If you have time, chill, covered with plastic wrap, for 30 minutes.
  5. To finish, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it shimmers.  Cook 4 cakes at a time until golden brown, carefully turning once with a metal spatula, about 4 minutes on each side.  Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and repeat with the second batch.  Serve warm or at room temperature, together with the mayonnaise.  Makes 8 entree size cakes, to serve 4, or make smaller cakes to serve as appetizers.

Everyone in the family enjoyed these delicious quinoa cakes!  SiSi ate the vegetarian version, because she doesn’t care for salmon, but I do give her props for tasting the lime mayo, which she actually liked.  Big Tex, on the other hand, actually preferred the smoked salmon version. {His first time trying it!}

We all decided that the lime mayo/yogurt combo added a nice tangy contrast to the saltiness of the smoked salmon, and we also thought it would be a DELICIOUS addition to fish tacos, which are one of our family favorites.



I had a wee bit of trouble keeping my quinoa cakes from falling apart in the pan.  I eventually started making “mini” quinoa cakes, which seemed to hold up a LITTLE better, but, in the end, I ended up with 4 large quinoa cakes, several “minis”, and a bowl full of quinoa and smoked salmon hash!

This “hash” would be fabulous topped with a poached egg!


The giveaway to win a copy of Ancient Grains for Modern Meals  is still on until July 25!!!  Leave a comment here to enter {remember, each time you leave a comment here you get an entry}.  In addition, you can also enter by voting for my next Ancient Grains recipe on The Spicy RD Facebook page {the next poll-pasta- is up!}, and by following Maria Speck on Twitter.  {Please leave a comment here if you follow Maria on Twitter, and remember to “like” The Spicy RD on Facebook before you vote, otherwise your vote is anonymous and I can’t give you credit for voting.}

In the meantime, if you can’t wait to try and win the book, you can visit Amazon to purchase a copy.  Just to entice you a little, some of the other recipes include”Saffron Waffles with Orange Cream”, “Wild Rice Frittata with Mushrooms and Crisped Prosciuto”, “Brie Cakes with Sun-Dried Tomatoes”, and Dark Chocolate Cake with Amaretto”…

Have you tried quinoa before?  If so, what are your favorite quinoa recipes?  Are you a good “cake” maker?  If so, care to share some tips for keeping your cakes from crumbling???