Chickpea Cake with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce, and Quinoa Vanilla Pudding

I realized today that we have about a month to go until we hit our 1 year vegetarian anniversary.  Not that we have been faithful in our vegetarian diets.  We have strayed during the holidays and sporadic gathering with friends and families.  However, I am quite proud of ourselves to say that we were about 80 percent vegetarian (I guess in our case we should refer ourselves as “lacto-vegetarians”).  At this point, after our 1 year mark, we probably will continue to eat mostly vegetarian, but we will also eat organic meats.  As much as we enjoy eating meats, during this one year period we have truly come to appreciate the vegetarian foods and how good these foods make us feel!
I found today’s recipe of Chickpea cake and cucumber yogurt sauce in the America’s Test Kitchen’s “Light and Healthy” issue.  For convenience sake, I adjusted few of the ingredients.
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1 cup panko bread crumbs
1-2 cucumber(s), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and shredded
salt
1-1/4 cups 2 percent Greek yogurt
6 scallions, sliced thin
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
black pepper
2 – 15oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 large eggs
3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 shallot, minced (about 3 Tablespoons)

Toss the shredded cucumber with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a colander and let drain for 20 minutes.  Squeeze out the excess water from the cucumber after 20 minutes and combine with 3/4 cup yogurt, 2 Tablespoons scallion and 1 Tablespoon cilantro in a bowl.  Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Pulse the chickpeas in the food processor to a coarse puree with large pieces remaining.  In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, 2 Tablespoons oil, garam masala, cayenne, and 1/8 teaspoon salt together.  Stir in panko, remaining 1/2 cup yogurt, remaining scallions, remaining 3 Tablespoons cilantro, processed chickpeas, and shallot until just combined.  Divide the chickpea mixture into 6 equal portions, about 1/2 cup each, and lightly pack into 1 inch thick cakes.
Heat 2 teaspoons more oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Carefully lay half of the cakes in the skillet and cook until well browned on both sides, 8-10 minutes, flipping them halfway through.  Finish cooking the rest of the cakes.  Serve with cucumber yogurt sauce. 
My opinion: Aside from the cucumber yogurt sauce, I served my chickpea cakes with baked golden beets (400F in a tent foil, bake the beets with the skin on for 1 hour.  Peel the skin off when semi cooled.  Don’t wash the skin before cooking, extra moisture will ruin the baking process),  baby spinach, and pepper bread (which I bought from the local bakery).  We ALL LOVED this chickpea cakes!!!  You can adjust the spices – the original recipe called for just 1 teaspoon of garam masala and 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne.  This tasted like samosa filling which made me very happy! Depending on the “runny-ness” of the chickpea filling, add more panko and adjust the salt and spices. 

Quinoa Vanilla Pudding:
I don’t know where I got this recipe from.  When I see potentially good recipes, I scribble down the recipes and file them in my folder.  We all have heard that quinoa is the super grain, and we should be eating a lot more of this super miracle grain!!  Well, I can only eat cooked quinoa with my meals for a short time, because I end up miss eating rice.  This dessert quinoa will be a great substitute!!
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3 cups milk (I used 1 percent milk)
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch of salt
1 cup quinoa

Rinse quinoa thoroughly for few minutes (if you don’t rinse, you won’t get the bitter coating on quinoa off), and drain. 
Mix milk, vanilla, maple and salt in a saucepan.  Set on simmer.  Add quinoa and cook for about 30 minutes on medium low heat, stirring frequently.  Once thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool.

My opinion: I served this pudding with dollop of Greek yogurt and blueberry compote.  If you haven’t tried quinoa, it has this crunchy after taste to it (which makes it unique).  This pudding was a huge hit and my family asked me to make this again – since we finished up the whole pot!!

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