foodFood & Drink

In the Kitchen With: Donal Skehan’s Quinoa, Pea and Zucchini Cakes

by Kristina Gill

Mini Quinoa Pea and Zucchini Cakes with Salsa Verde

Today, on St. Patrick’s Day, I have chosen to share a recipe from one of my favorite YouTube foodies, Donal Skehan. Donal is an Irish food writer, television host, and photographer who has recently moved to LA from Dublin with his wife, Sofie, and his rescue dog, Max, for their next food adventure. His first American cookbook, Fresh, was just released, and to keep with the freshness theme, I’ve chosen the Mini Quinoa, Pea and Zucchini Cakes with Salsa Verde. Since spring is just around the corner, feel free to use fresh peas instead of frozen, and soak and cook your own chickpeas from dried instead of canned. Because this recipe freezes well, and is accompanied by a recipe for salsa verde, it’s really a two-for-one! Make an extra-large batch of both so you have some for later in the week, and you can use the salsa verde to dress your favorite spring vegetables, sandwiches, or salads. —Kristina

Why Donal loves this recipe: When it comes to eating lighter, healthier and more balanced meals, I like the idea of fritters just like these that can be jam-packed with good ingredients. This recipe makes quite a few quinoa cakes which can be kept and served reheated for brunch with smoked salmon, a poached egg and asparagus.


Fresh by Donal Skehan

Food Photography by Donal Skehan | Portrait by Sofie Larsson Skehan

Mini Quinoa, Pea and Zucchini Cakes

These light but zesty cakes can be used in salads, wraps, and lunchboxes, so it is a good idea to make up two batches, as they freeze extremely well. I serve them with a vibrant, minty salsa verde, a classic Italian sauce that complements the zucchini and peas. Serve it with a lightly dressed arugula salad and it makes a light lunch or a robust appetizer.

Serves 6


— 1 tbsp vegetable oil
— 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
— 1 onion, finely chopped
— 2 zucchini, coarsely grated
— 3½ oz frozen peas, defrosted
— 6 tbsp pumpkin seeds
— 3 tbsp flax seeds
— 1 x 14-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
— Zest and juice of ½ lemon
— 3 scallions, finely sliced
— 7 oz cooked quinoa
— Small handful of basil, chopped
— Small handful of mint, chopped
— Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa verde

— 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for dressing the salad
— 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
— 1 tsp Dijon mustard
— 2 garlic cloves
— 3 anchovy fillets
— 1 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
— Handful of flat-leaf parsley
— Large handful of mint leaves
— ½ tsp salt
— ½ tsp pepper

To serve

— 3 large handfuls of arugula
— ½ lemon


1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F (350°F fan).

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and fry the garlic and onion for 4–5 minutes, or until softened. Add the zucchini and fry for a further 5 minutes until softened. Just before the zucchini are cooked, add the peas and stir through. Set the cooked vegetables aside to cool completely in a large mixing bowl.

3. In a food processor blend together the pumpkin seeds and flax seeds until they are finely ground. Add the chickpeas, lemon zest and juice, and blend again until smooth.

4. Transfer the mixture to the cooked vegetables in the bowl, along with the scallions, cooked quinoa, basil, and mint. Season with salt and pepper and mix until all the ingredients are evenly combined. If the mixture looks too dry, loosen with 1–2 tablespoons of cold water.

5. Using your hands, form the mixture into golf ball-sized balls and then press into ¼-in-thick patties. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

6. Blend all the ingredients for the salsa verde in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to small individual serving dishes.

7. Dress the arugula with a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and some salt and pepper; toss to coat. Serve the mini cakes with the salsa verde and dressed arugula.

Reprinted with permission from Fresh © 2017 by Donal Skehan, Sterling Epicure. Photography by Donal Skehan.

About Donal:
Donal Skehan is an award-winning Irish food writer, television host, and photographer. He has published five cookbooks and hosts Star Kids on the Food Network, Kitchen Hero on RTE One, Junior MasterChef on BBC One, Mitt Kok (in Swedish) on TV4 in Sweden, Grandma’s Boy on FOX International, and Follow Donal on Food Network (UK). You can find Donal’s video recipes on his YouTube channel. Find him also on Twitter, Instagram, and FacebookFresh is his most recent cookbook. Find out about his other books here.

Donal Skehan

Suggested For You


  • That dish looks scrumptious! I’ll leave out the anchovies, and presto, it’ll be vegan for me.

  • These look incredible! Perfect for the start of spring, and appropriately green for Paddy’s Day! Thanks for sharing, will definitely check out Donal’s book if I see it in the shops

    – Natalie

  • Everything looks so amazing! I am definitely getting Donal’s book.
    Thanks for this inspiration!

  • I tried these little cakes for my son and he loved them! His 3 so getting him to eat his veggies isn’t exactly the easiest of tasks. But this was a great little recipe which really helped! Bit more prep and cooking time than I would like. As a single dad it’s hard to get the time but if he likes them why not! Thanks for sharing