One of the reasons why I started eating healthier in recent months is because of my health-conscious roommate from this past fall. While I love my roast pork and lamb chops too much to ever consider going vegetarian like she did, she introduced me to a variety of new things that I might have just written off before because they were labeled as being "healthy," which I have a tendency to hear instead as being "tasteless."
One of my favorite discoveries thanks to her is quinoa. A light, nutty grain that cooks fast and is a great substitute for rice, quinoa is also a nutritional powerhouse, high in iron, calcium and fiber, and is also a protein powerhouse. Given that, it makes sense that I've mostly seen quinoa in healthier fare like salads. Yet who knew it also makes for a great base in dessert, like in this quinoa cake with crystallized ginger? The grains give the cake a moist, light quality, and it's definitely a much more pleasing texture than your average chocolate cake... not to mention there's no guilt splurging on an extra slice.
Sass also suggests that you can turn it into a cinnamon-walnut quinoa cake by replacing the Brazil nuts, crystallized ginger and raisins with walnuts, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots.
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 cup spelt flour, plus more for flouring the pan
- 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup coarsely chopped Brazil nuts, toasted
- 4 to 6 tablespoons coarsely chopped crystallized ginger, to taste
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing the pan
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the quinoa and cook until the grains are translucent and tender (there should be no white dot of uncooked starch in the center), 11 to 14 minutes. Drain thoroughly in a fine-meshed strainer. Spread the quinoa out on a large platter to cool.
Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and lightly flour a rectangular baking pan that measures approximately 11 by 7 inches. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, Brazil nuts, ginger, and raisins.
In a small bowl, combine the eggs, orange juice, butter, and vanilla extract.
Stir the liquid ingredients and the quinoa into the dry ingredients just until blended. Transfer to the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 60 minutes, depending upon the size of the pan. Rotate the pan halfway through for more even baking.
Set the pan on a cooling rack. When cool, cut into fifteen 2-inch squares.