It seems as though another polar vortex has slammed into the East Coast with full force and we are shrouded in a blanket of bitterly cold temps. I suppose that living in New England for my entire life, I should be accustomed to below freezing weather, but I swear every time that I wake up and see that negative sign before an actual number on my thermometer (aka my iPhone), my heart just sinks.
But what makes this type of weather bearable (and how I survive) is all the comforting recipes that come along with it. Soups, chilis, slow-roasted meats, crock pot meals and other full-bodied dishes that stick to our ribs and fill us with a sense of warmth and happiness.
It’s the only time of year (well besides Thanksgiving) that feeling stuffed to the brim actually makes me smile. For some
insane reason, when I’m shivering on my living room sofa, eating three bowls of soup or four spaghetti squash burgers (which we will get to momentarily) seems completely acceptable.
Like most of you, I work a full-time job, so quick meals are a staple in my house. I love making big batches of stuff, then freezing the extra portions so that I know if I’m really in a pinch, I can just pull something out, pop it in the oven and dinner is done.
In my freezer you can always find:
- A container of vegetable soup
- A meaty chili or stew of some sort
- Frozen chicken and vegetables
- And homemade veggie quinoa burgers
During the winter, soups and stews are a given, right? You can whip them up in your crockpot, make a ginormous batch, separate them out into servings, freeze and call it a day. Same goes for chicken and veggies. Just thaw out the chicken, make a pot of quinoa while it’s thawing, chop it up, toss it with some veggies, and serve it over the quinoa with a drizzle of gluten-free tamari sauce.
But it’s the nights when I’m super lazy, and I mean really, really lazy, that the veggie burgers come in handy. You know those nights…the ones where you get home at 7:00, you’re completely famished, your kids are starving (if I had kids I imagine they’d be tugging at my sleeve complaining about how hungry they are) and even those options above seem like way too much effort.
Enter your savior: veggie quinoa burgers.
Typically when I make vegetarian quinoa burgers, I use beans to add substance and nutrients. But this time around, I wanted to make a burger that was still rich in vitamins, but skipped on the legumes. Because sometimes I just don’t feel like having beans.
I turned to spaghetti squash for a two reasons. First, its unique texture. If you haven’t tried spaghetti squash, you’re in for a real treat. The texture of this yellow winter squash is just like the name, but in squash form (obviously). It’s stringy like spaghetti, but tastes like squash. And totally in all the right ways, not some weird squishy, squashy, pasta-y mess way like you might be imagining.
The second reason is the fact that spaghetti squash, and most winter squash in general, is loaded with nutrients – everything from vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and even fiber. Plus, like everything else on this site, these cakes have quinoa in them, so you’re not only getting the wellness boost from the squash, but the quinoa as well.
And these Spaghetti Squash Quinoa Cakes are the real deal, my friends. These tender little morsels are crisp on the outside, but soft when you bite into one. They have a gentle sweetness from the squash that is countered with the salty hint of nutritional yeast. Then there’s the quinoa, which helps to break up the texture and add that slight crunch these cakes need.
Plus, they freeze beautifully, so whip up a big batch, eat some for dinner then pop the leftovers in the freezer for a quick weeknight meal when cooking is the last thing on your mind. Trust me, you’ll be thankful you have extra of these wholesome veggie burgers – they’ve quickly become a standby in our house.
adapted from My New Roots
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- 2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup gluten-free cornmeal (or quinoa flour)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Smoked paprika / chili powder (optional)
- Oil for cooking
- Optional sides: sauteed kale, salsa, hummus
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place squash cut side down in a baking dish and add 1/4" in of water. Roast for 40 - 50 minutes, until a knife can easily penetrate the skin.
- Remove from oven, flip over and let sit until cool enough to handle. Scoop out flesh with a fork into a clean, dry dish towel. Squeeze as much water as you can out of the squash. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Steam spinach in a small saucepan until just wilted. Transfer to mixing bowl and mix with squash until combined.
- Add remaining ingredients to bowl and fold to combine. The mixture should start to resemble a soft dough. Form the dough into patties, place on a parchment lined plate or baking sheet and chill in fridge for 1 hour.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add cakes and cook until golden on one side, 2 - 3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 1 - 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining cakes.
- Serve immediately with a side of salsa / hummus and freshly sauteed kale.
For Freezing: Let cakes cool completely, then wrap in tinfoil, place in a sealed plastic bag and freeze.
To Cook Frozen Cakes: Heat oven to 300 degrees F. Place cakes on a baking sheet, cook for 10 - 15 minutes, flipping halfway, until heated through.