shortly after i promised you a plant-based recipe a week last week (POW!) this week arrived. weeks are like gangbusters. there is nowhere to hide. as it turns out, this is a very good thing for you. just for you, i am sitting in bed, dinner propped on a stack of cookbooks, typing a recipe i'm calling "sunshine cakes" because who wouldn't want to make something with sunshine in the title? and you should make these cakes because they are so delightful and so easy, among other becoming qualities, all of which should be preceded by the word so.
the sun in sunshine cakes comes from sunflower seeds, ground almost to a powder in a food processor. then in goes cooked millet (or quinoa or rice if you prefer) and a host of other ingredients to give your cakes flavor and texture. this is where you can draw on the creativity of your inner cook. i like mine with caramelized onions, grated carrots, and plenty of fresh herbs. i've also made them with chopped sundried tomatoes and golden raisins. i can vividly imagine them with diced, sauteed mushrooms. can somebody please do that and report back? this recipe makes about 12 protein & fiber-packed cakes (or you can shape them larger and have sunshine burgers). they keep well, so i make them at the beginning of the week and mightily praise my forsight when hunger hits and there is a quick, tasty, filling snack at my disposal. the best part is the crispy golden crust that's formed when you sear the cakes in your favorite cast iron skillet, so don't skimp on that part.
sunflower seed & millet cakes with spicy tahini sauce
(makes 12 cakes)
1 cup millet, rinsed
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 bay leaf and/or sprig of thyme (optional)
2 cups raw sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup grated carrot
3/4 cup caramelized onions (see note)
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
sea salt & pepper
1/4 cup neutral high heat oil, such as canola or safflower, for cooking
cook the millet: preheat oven to 350. place the millet, stock (or water), turmeric, red chile flakes, and bay leaf & thyme (if using) in an oven-safe pot with a fitted lid. bring the stock to a boil, cover the pot, and place in the oven. cook for 20-25 minutes, until the stock is absorbed and the millet is cooked through (it will still have a pebbly texture). fluff with a fork and set aside to cool to room temperature.
make the cakes: place the sunflower seeds, coriander, and garlic powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. process until the sunflower seeds are finely ground--they will have the texture of breadcrumbs. add the millet, caramelized onions, grated carrot, and chopped parsley to the processor, season with salt and pepper, and pulse a few times to combine all the ingredients. do not over process or the mixture will get gummy.
shape the mixture into cakes, using about 1/4 - 1/3 cup of the mixture for each cake. chill the cakes in the refrigerator for an hour (or more) so they set.
when you are ready to cook the cakes, preheat the oven to 400. set out a rimmed baking sheet--lining with parchment paper is optional. heat 1 - 2 tablespoons of the oil in a cast iron (or non-stick) skillet, over medium heat. use enough oil to generously cover the bottom of your pan. cook the cakes in batches, searing on each side for 1 - 3 minutes, until a golden crust is formed. remove the cakes to the baking sheet. once all of the cakes have been seared, slip the baking sheet in the oven for 7 minutes to cook through. serve immediately with spicy tahini sauce (recipe below), or save for later.
spicy tahini sauce
1/3 cup tahini, preferably raw
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno
1 clove garlic, chopped, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
sea salt & pepper
place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined, about 1 minute.
* this recipe is ripe for experimentation. substitute cooked rice or quinoa for the millet, and feel free to add other things (sundried tomatoes, grated sweet potato, raisins/currants, green onion, herbs, capers, jalapeno are just a few ideas)
* the millet cake pictured in this post is served with avocado, bull's blood micro greens, spicy tahini and a quick saute of chopped green beans and pea tendrils
*the best way to reheat the cakes is in the oven, however i am happy to eat them cold or at room temperature (yes, they are that good)
* to caramelize onions: slice 2 onions into 1/4 inch half moons. heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy, medium-sized saute pan over medium heat. add the onions and stir to coat in the olive oil. cook for a few minutes, stirring so as not to burn the onions, then turn the heat to medium-low. season with a generous pinch of salt and several cracks of black pepper. cook the onions, stirring from time to time, for 45-70 minutes, until they are deeply golden and shrunken down in size. make sure to watch the heat so they do not burn. you can add a splash of water if they are sticking to the pan.