Salmon & Quinoa Cakes with Chipotle Tartar Sauce

Hoping everyone south of the border enjoyed their Thanksgiving weekend. Up here in Canada’s North, Kyle and I have started a tradition of recording the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (since we both typically work Thursdays), and playing it on the weekend while we trim the (faux) tree and decorate the house. And this weekend was no different. Our first time decorating the new home was lots of fun – although we are noticing that with extra space you need extra “stuff.” So, we may have to get up early boxing day to take advantage of sales in order to beef up our Christmas decor for next year. 

This past week, Kyle was out of town. And when he’s gone, I barely cook … and if I do, it’s typically something that Kyle doesn’t really care for; such as this recipe (which I actually did make and devour a few days ago). However, there was lots of leftover salmon and quinoa in the fridge from the last dinner we enjoyed before Kyle left. I ate it for lunch a few days in a row, but quickly tired of it. So one evening this week I decided to try my hand at some gluten free salmon cakes. I have missed making my typical salmon cakes; loaded with fresh, soft white bread to hold the mix together and create a fluffy cake. As I have discussed before, pre-made gluten free bread leaves much to be desired … and I have yet to find anything that would mimic the fluffy texture of white bread. And for that reason, I have not made salmon cakes since before May when I found out I’d have to give up gluten.

All that changed this week though. When I eyed up my leftovers and the contents of the fridge (because it was a coooooold winter night, and I sure as heck wasn’t going out to the grocery store), I whipped up these gluten free, tasty cakes. The leftover quinoa stood in for the bread that I previously would use. While it didn’t provide the same fluffiness, it proved to be a welcome substitute. The quinoa became super crisp on the outside after a quick pan-fry; and the middle had the characteristic crunchy and “popping” texture of cooked quinoa. And since quinoa has only a slight nutty taste, it was a great blank canvas for the garlicky sautéed vegetables and fleshy pink salmon. I dare say I may have enjoyed these even more than my gluton-filled white bread version from salmon cakes past.

Salmon & Quinoa Cakes

This recipe likely only makes enough for 2 people … although it could potentially be stretched to serve 3; so remember to increase the ingredients if you’re planning to cook this for a crowd. You will notice there is broccoli in the photos even though I do not call for this flowery green vegetable in the recipe. This is because my leftover quinoa was from Heidi Swanson’s Double Broccoli Quinoa recipe. You do not have to use this to make your cakes – it can be plain or any leftover cooked quinoa you have in your fridge. Although I do recommend making the aforementioned quinoa recipe as soon as you can – it’s so darn tasty that the only reason there was leftovers was due to the large amount it makes!

1 Tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil, divided
1/4 cup red onion, fine diced
1/4 cup celery, fine diced
1/4 cup peppers, fine diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup cooked salmon
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 egg
1 Tbsp gluten free flour (I used a pre-made mix)
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning

Heat 2 tsp of the olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion, celery, peppers, and garlic for 5 minutes, or until softened. Season the onion mixture with the salt and pepper; set aside to cool.

Once cool, combine the onion mixture and remaining ingredients in a medium-bowl. Thoroughly mix. Line a baking sheet with wax paper (or foil or parchment paper); start making “cakes” out of the mixture, using about 1/3 cup for each cake. Place the cakes on the wax paper as you go. When they are all made, place the salmon cakes in the fridge and allow to set for about 15 minutes.

Heat the Tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat (time-saving tip: just use the same pan you used to saute the vegetables). Place 3 salmon cakes in the hot pan; cook for approximately 5 minutes per side, or until golden-brown. Remove the cakes from the pan and continue with the remaining salmon cakes.

Serve hot or warm with Chipotle Tartar Sauce (or your sauce of choice).

Makes 5-6 salmon cakes.

Chipotle Tartar Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp minced dill pickle
1 tsp chopped capers
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 – 1 tsp chipotle chili powder (use less if you want this less spicy)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with salmon cakes or your favourite fish or seafood.


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  1. #1 by Chelsey on December 6, 2012 - 9:05 pm

    Delicious!!! I can’t wait to make these!

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