My Trip to the Culinary Institute of America and a Gluten-Free Recipe for Sweet Potato & Peanut Quinoa Cakes

Last month, I spent a weekend at the gorgeous Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, CA. My trip to the CIA was part of Plant-Powered Eating: The Role of Peanuts in Healthy Diets, a nutrition program sponsored by The Peanut Institute. We sat in on lectures exploring the benefits of adding peanuts to the diet and we cooked a variety of recipes—everything from a deep fried turkey to peanut caramel popcorn—alongside seasoned CIA chefs. My favorite recipe that day was this one for Peanut, Farro, and Mushroom Burgers with Swiss Cheese and Caramelized Onions.

peanut farro vegetarian cakes

This recipe took quite some time to assemble, and there were more than a few cooks in the kitchen preparing it. So in true Meal Makeover Mom fashion, I set out to recreate the recipe to (a) make it more streamlined, (b) use fewer ingredients, (c) keep it kid friendly, and (d) make it gluten free (something our readers love).

Gluten free quinoa cakes made with sweet potato, chopped peanuts, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms, garlic, thyme, and rosemary

I used Tim and the boys as my guinea pigs, and I’m happy to report that there were no leftovers after dinner.

Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. Look at all that rosemary.

Fresh herbs including rosemary grow everywhere around the grounds of the CIA, and we used some for the recipe.

Sweet Potato & Peanut Quinoa Cakes

Makes 4 Servings

Peanuts are the most nutrient dense nut. They contain a long list of nutrients including folate, niacin, vitamin E, iron, copper, and magnesium. I love them for their versatility, and I’m especially fond of them in this recipe. The sweetness of the sweet potato is the perfect balance for the flavor of the peanuts, and the quinoa makes these pint-size patties perfect for people on gluten-free diets. To serve the patties, you can do a number of things. Consider melting a slice of cheese on top and serving on slider buns (unless you’re gluten free), or serve on top of a crisp, fresh summer salad. You decide!

  • One 8-ounce sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil or expeller pressed canola oil, divided
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Steam the sweet potato until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher until smooth. Set aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, rosemary, and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 1 to 2 more minutes. Season with kosher salt and pepper.

3. Add the mushrooms, quinoa, peanuts, and Parmesan cheese to the mashed sweet potato and stir until well combined.

4. Form the mixture into 8 patties. Heat the remaining oil in the nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Carefully arrange the patties in the skillet and cook until the bottoms are golden, about 4 minutes. Flip carefully and cook until the other sides are golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Cook in two separate batches if your skillet is not big enough to hold all 8 patties.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 patties): 360 calories, 20g fat (4g saturated), 200mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 15g protein, 140% vitamin A, 15% vitamin C, 10% calcium, 15% iron

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Disclosure: I do not work for The Peanut Institute, but my travel expenses associated with the conference were paid for.  All opinions and recipe are my own. (Check out my other Napa CIA post featuring Peanut Butter Crepes with Strawberry Sauce.)

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