Spinach-Feta Quinoa Cakes…plus 5 Quick Dinners on the Panini Press

by on February 5, 2013

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It starts around 4:45 PM in my house. First it’s, “Can I have crackers?” About ten minutes later, “I need yellow cheese.” And then soon after, a breaking point is reached.

“WHEN ARE WE HAVING DINNER?!!”

Spinach-Feta Quinoa Cakes with Lemon-Dill Yogurt Sauce is one of many healthy dinners I’m able to pull together in about 35 minutes with the help of my panini press. These savory grilled quinoa cakes take on the zesty flavors of a classic Greek spanakopita. Quinoa, as you may know, is a high protein “superfood,” so these cakes are just as good for you as they are delicious. They crisp up well on the grill, so there’s no need to sauté them in oil. Add a few dollops of cool lemon-dill yogurt sauce and you’ve got a tasty light meal.

My panini press is my secret to getting quick meals on the table several  times a week. It’s stationed right on my kitchen counter most days, ready to quickly grill meats, seafood and vegetables. As we know, the panini press – or any tabletop grill – heats food from both the top and bottom at the same time, so it usually takes less time to cook than other methods. Also, many presses (including the ones that I use) come with a drip tray, so when I grill the excess fat drains away.

I’ve got the recipe for Spinach-Feta Quinoa Cakes for you at the end of this post. Here are five more delicious dinner options you can prepare quickly on a panini press (besides, of course, panini):

Foil-Grilled Salmon with Pesto and Tomatoes ...get the #recipe at www.paninihappy.com (c) Kathy Strahs Not only is Foil-Grilled Salmon with Pesto and Tomatoes a quick meal – the salmon grills in just 10 minutes – but since you grill it in a foil packet there’s also virtually nothing to clean up. Definitely one of my favorites! Panini-Grilled Hamburgers ...get the #recipe at www.paninihappy.com (c) Kathy Strahs In the wintertime, when it’s too cold to barbecue, use your panini press to grill juicy Hamburgers. The excess fat drains away and you don’t even need to flip them. Win-win! Grilled Shrimp Tostadas with Mashed Black Beans and Avocado Salsa Fresca ...get the #recipe at www.paninihappy.com (c) Kathy Strahs Shrimp is one of my best weeknight dinner secrets, whether or not I’m cooking with a panini press. You can grill half a pound of shrimp on the panini press in about 90 seconds! Hence, I always keep a bag of them in the freezer – ready to make Grilled Shrimp Tostadas with Avocado Salsa Fresca at any time. Spatchcocked Game Hen ...get the #recipe at www.paninihappy.com (c) Kathy Strahs You can even grill a whole chicken on the panini press, if the chicken is a Cornish game hen and you butterfly it to lay flat (aka, spatchcock). With heat from both sides on the press, you can grill Spatchcocked Game Hen in about half the time it would take to roast it, under 20 minutes. Panini-Grilled Chicken Teriyaki...get the #recipe at www.paninihappy.com (c) Kathy Strahs Let boneless, skinless chicken thighs soak in a sweet and salty marinade, and put rice on to cook while you attend to other things around the house. Then, once it’s time to grill, Chicken Teriyaki takes just minutes on the panini press.

These are just a handful of ways that your panini press or tabletop grill can help you get weeknight dinner on the table quickly. If you can roast, fry or bake it, chances are you can grill it on the panini press – quicker and maybe even healthier.



This post is part of BlogHer’s Dinner, Faster editorial series, made possible by Land o’ Lakes.

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cassie | Bake Your Day February 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I really love quinoa cakes. I love these flavors, Kathy!
Cassie | Bake Your Day´s last blog post ..Our New Home

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2 Kathy February 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Thanks, Cassie! So do I. :-)

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3 Brian @ A Thought For Food February 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Those quinoa cakes sounds heavenly!
Brian @ A Thought For Food´s last blog post ..Meringue-Topped Baked Grapefruit

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4 Kathy February 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Thanks, Brian!

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5 Cherie February 5, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Oh yay, I love quinoa! Happy to discover more options for it. Experimenting with this recipe in the next few days :)
Cherie´s last blog post ..Making Faces

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6 Kathy February 5, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Terrific – I hope you like it, Cherie!

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7 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen February 6, 2013 at 1:01 am

If it’s got feta in it I’m a happy girl!
Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen´s last blog post ..Moroccan Spiced Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Carrots

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8 Angela February 6, 2013 at 6:30 am

Love this! I have a bunch of quinoa and was looking for something to do with it! Bet I could sub some of the other greens I have around for the spinach?

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9 Kathy February 6, 2013 at 7:36 am

Sautéed kale would be great in there!

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10 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective February 6, 2013 at 7:03 am

Oh so yummy!
Sommer@ASpicyPerspective´s last blog post ..How to Peel and Mince Garlic

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11 Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies February 6, 2013 at 10:10 am

I make quinoa patties all the time, but I usually bake them in the oven. The fact that these only took you 4-5 minutes on the panini press is awesome–I think this is how I’m going to make mine from now on!
Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies´s last blog post ..How to Make Mushroom Stock from Kitchen Scraps

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12 Kathy February 6, 2013 at 10:18 am

Definitely give it a try, Kiersten!

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13 manu February 7, 2013 at 3:21 am

wow i would have never thought to use a panini press for so many things are than a panini! amazing! I will have to try some of these! the salmon and chicken look awesome.

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14 Kelly Senyei | Just a Taste February 7, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Yum! Love all of these creative ideas, Kathy!
Kelly Senyei | Just a Taste´s last blog post ..Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

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15 Jen @ Savory Simple February 7, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Quinoa cakes have always been on my to make list. This looks like the perfect recipe to try!

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16 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. February 10, 2013 at 7:14 pm

so creative!!
Alison @ Ingredients, Inc.´s last blog post ..Three Ballet Fitness DVD Giveaway: Ballet Body Workouts

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17 Russell van Kraayenburg February 11, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Yum! I love all these. And who doesn’t love a nice quick dinner.
Russell van Kraayenburg´s last blog post ..Recipe Building: Chewy Cookies

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18 sally @ sallys baking addiction February 11, 2013 at 6:32 pm

I love making quinoa patties/cakes! I’ve never tried them on a panini press before Kathy!! I love finding new ways to eat my beloved quinoa. :)
sally @ sallys baking addiction´s last blog post ..red velvet cheesecake swirl brownies.

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19 Allyson February 13, 2013 at 9:39 am

Omg I loooove Quinoa cakes sooo much. This combination looks amazing, and I am pinning to try ASAP! Thanks!!
Allyson´s last blog post ..Heart Shaped Brownies….Pinterest FAIL!

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20 Elise S February 16, 2013 at 8:59 am

Hi – Silly question – do you cook 1 1/4 cups of quinoa or do you cook less so that you have 1 1/4 cups once it’s cooked? Thanks!

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21 Kathy February 16, 2013 at 9:11 am

Hi Elise – Yes, you need 1 1/4 cups *cooked* quinoa for this recipe. Just like rice, quinoa expands as it cooks. So you’ll need to start with somewhere around 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup *uncooked* quinoa. The exact ratio varies across quinoa brands so you’ll want to refer to the cooking directions on the package.

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22 Becca February 18, 2013 at 4:05 pm

If you don’t have a panini press, would you recommend baking them or pan frying? Or a little of both? :). Thanks.

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23 Kathy February 18, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Hi Becca – You could really go either way, but I’d probably pan fry them. :-)

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24 Laura B February 18, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Don’t know what we did wrong, but these stuck all over the panini grill, fell apart and we’re now cooking them in a skillet… The panini grill will take awhile to get clean!

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25 Kathy February 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Hi Laura, I’m sorry to hear they fell apart on you. I’ve made them several times and they’ve always remained intact. Without seeing them I can’t say for sure what went awry but it’s possible that your quinoa cakes weren’t quite cooked enough when you opened the grill. Just like when you’re grilling burgers or fish on the barbecue, if you go to move them too soon they tend to stick. All panini makers heat differently – it’s possible that it takes a little longer to cook on yours than it does on mine.

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26 Shaina February 21, 2013 at 8:16 pm

These sound so good, and I love the idea of Cornish game hens on the panini press.
Shaina´s last blog post ..Honey Sweet Potato Biscuits: ONE

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27 Shelby February 22, 2013 at 3:25 am

Love it ALL!
Shelby´s last blog post ..Chickpea and Spinach Curry

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28 Kylie April 17, 2013 at 3:33 am

Hi, could I make these ahead of time ? Are they nice at room temp or cold? thanks!

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29 Kathy Strahs April 17, 2013 at 6:56 am

Hi Kylie – I personally prefer them served warm, but they do reheat well.

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30 Dimpal April 29, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Is there way to make these without the egg? Sounds so good but my husband can’t consume them..

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31 Kathy Strahs April 29, 2013 at 1:55 pm

I haven’t personally tried it without eggs, but I put the question out to a group of friends and received a few good alternative binder suggestions: 1) a puree of quinoa, beans, boiled potatoes or rice flour, or 2) commercial egg replacer. Here is another good resource for egg replacement options: http://onceamonthmom.com/going-egg-free-how-to-substitute-eggs-in-recipes/

Hope this helps!

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32 Hillary July 31, 2013 at 6:09 pm

These were great! I made a tzatziki sauce with dill instead since I’m making gyros this week (also mixed some with tuna for a spin on tuna salad sandwich). Instead of sauteing the onions and garlic I added them into the quinoa when I was cooking it to avoid dirtying another pan. I also added a veggie broth bouillon to the quinoa to up the flavor. Everything else I did the same. I had a slight issue with sticking but I think it was more so a need for more pam spray.

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33 Kathy Strahs July 31, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Terrific! I’m so glad you liked them, Hillary! :-)

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34 Phyllis August 20, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Finally made the Spinach-Feta Quinoa Cakes last night – OMG!!! delish!!
Now I want more recipes like this one – can see myself cooking on my Griddler every night!!! Thanks for the recipe….

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35 Kathy Strahs August 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm

That’s so great to hear, Phyllis!

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36 Candice August 29, 2013 at 5:59 pm

I made these tonight and they were delicious! I don’t have a panini press so I baked them at 350 for 25 minutes and they were perfect. Thank you!!

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37 Karen September 4, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Thanks for the recipe. These were a big hit at a potluck dinner. I need to eat gluten-free so I used gluten free bread crumbs.

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38 tracie c. September 24, 2013 at 6:02 am

thank you for the recipe!
i fooled around with it a little due to what i had on hand. skipped the dill because i didn’t have any. added a little red pepper flake and made guacamole with greek yogurt, a little onion, salsa to top it. it was a real hit!
i fried mine in a little olive oil. i used my 1/4 cup measuring cup packed in the mixture and it plopped out into the pan beautifully. then gently flattened it out with a spatula. they looked very uniform. my husband thought they were store bought (HA!) i got 9 patties from the recipe.
a nice base recipe that can be experimented with!
thanks again, really enjoyed!

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39 Kathy Strahs September 24, 2013 at 6:18 am

That sounds terrific, Tracie!!

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40 Lavens Brooks October 23, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Do you think I could make these the day before ans keep them in the fridge and put on the panini press the next day?

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41 Kathy Strahs October 23, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Hi Lavens – I haven’t made them ahead before, but I think it should work. My only concern would be the eggs, but judging from this chart (http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/eggstorage.html) things should be fine if you’re just refrigerating them overnight.

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42 Naomi November 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm

These were excellent! Thanks so much for the recipe :) They were a great way to use up the feta I had in my fridge. And my boys loved them.
Naomi´s last blog post ..A Day at the Lil’ Monkey’s Treehouse Play and Discovery Center!

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43 Kathy Strahs November 7, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I’m so glad to hear it, Naomi!

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44 Susie Wittwer April 12, 2014 at 2:11 pm

I made these quinoa cakes today. Oh my. I LOVE them!
I don’t have a panini press so I used my George Forman grill. Worked perfectly. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!!!

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45 Kathy Strahs April 12, 2014 at 7:59 pm

I’m so glad you liked them, Susie!!

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