Last night was a make-it-quick night; the chicken had to be roasted in pieces and the side dish simple. One-Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf was a cinch to make and its citrusy flavor, earthy kale, and toasted-seed crunch turned out to be an excellent side for roast chicken. I made a couple substitutions based on the ingredients I had on-hand, so pumpkin seeds and feta replaced the pine nuts and goat cheese, which worked quite well.
Toasted pumpkin seeds impart a distinctly nutty flavor as well as a pleasing contrast with the kale. As much as I love pine nuts, the cost and flavor of the toasted pumpkin seeds make it a worthy substitute here. Feta in place of the goat cheese will require a slight adjustment in the salt, but overall creaminess and flavor were not affected.
It is a surprisingly delicious balance of flavors and textures with so few ingredients, one I will make repeatedly.
A few notes about the recipe details:
The recipe doesn’t indicate how much a “bunch” of kale might be, which can range quite a bit. I had a fairly small bunch compared to the others at the store and once it was prepped, I had about 4 cups. The next time I make this dish, I will scale it back just a bit to 3 cups.
Texture is as important as flavor with most folks and the crunch of quinoa can be an issue for some. Since our family is in that crowd, I have learned to cook quinoa a little longer and will less liquid for the texture we like—less crunch without being soggy. So I reduced the water in this recipe to 1 3/4 cups and increased the cooking time by an additional 15 minutes overall.
So long as you keep the liquid ratio just right, the remaining components are versatile, making this recipe an easy one to memorize, customize, and make anywhere. As promised, the recipe is posted below from The Food52 Cookbook by Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs. To order the cookbook, just click the book photo.
One-Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf
BY DEENSIEBAT ❘ SERVES 2 TO 4
A&M: Deensiebat’s pilaf breathes new life into a familiar classic. The quinoa and hearty strips of lacinato kale (you can use chard or standard kale) crunch lightly between your teeth, and Meyer lemon juice and zest keep blandness at bay. Fresh goat cheese and walnut oil just barely coat the warm pilaf, giving it a creamy, tangy finish, and toasted pine nuts lend some crunch. We love the technique of layering the quinoa and the kale. Deensiebat said, “It’s one-pot
easy, making it a simple way to incorporate healthy eating into a worknight rotation.”
1 cup quinoa
1 bunch lacinato (or regular) kale, washed and chopped into 1-inch lengths
1 Meyer lemon, zested and juiced
2 scallions, minced
1 tablespoon toasted walnut oil (or olive oil)
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1⁄4 cup crumbled soft goat cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring 2 cups salted water to a boil over high heat in a large pot with a cover. Add the quinoa, cover, and lower the heat until it is just high enough to maintain a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, then top the quinoa with the kale and re-cover. Simmer another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow the quinoa and kale to steam for 5 more minutes.
2. While the quinoa is cooking, take a large serving bowl and combine the lemon zest, half the lemon juice, the scallions, walnut oil, pine nuts, and goat cheese.
3. Check the quinoa and kale—the water should have absorbed, and the quinoa will be tender but firm, and the kale tender and bright green. If the quinoa still has a hard white center, you can steam it a bit longer,adding more water if needed. When the quinoa and kale are done, fluff the pilaf and tip it into the waiting bowl with the remaining ingredients. As the hot quinoa hits the scallions and lemon, it should smell lovely. Toss to combine, seasoning with salt and pepper and the remaining lemon juice if needed.
TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
EarlyToBed: “I’ve now made this delicious recipe several times, with variations. Variation 1: I use half white and half brown quinoa, toasted (until popping) before cooking. Variation 2: I increased the kale-to-quinoa proportion, and then used it as the filling for a frittata (or quiche). Six eggs plus a bit of cream, mix in the kale and quinoa, pour into an 8 × 8-inch dish or pie plate or pie crust, bake at 350°F until set, and then serve and enjoy.”
ABOUT THE COOK
Deena Prichep produces stories for print and public radio and writes the blog Mostly Foodstuffs (www.mostlyfoodstuffs .blogspot .com) from her home in Portland, Oregon. Her best entertaining tip: “Sangria can be cheaper than a six-pack.” Her favorite recipe from a cookbook: “The herb jam from Paula Wolfert’s The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen—I’ve made it scads of times, and there’s really nothing quite like it.”
WHAT THE COMMUNITY SAID
Rolando74: “You’re probably getting bored with people telling you how good this is. I substituted feta for the goat cheese and it was great. I’m sending it to my vegetarian sister right now.”
Lacerise: “This is one of my new favorite recipes! It’s destined to become a staple in my cooking repertoire. Healthy, bright and flavorful, easy, and picnic or dinner party worthy. The lemonyness from the juice and zest and the walnut oil’s nuttiness are terrific!”
Thistlepie: “This is a wonderful recipe! I have now made it three times in the past month! Yum! I am a huge fan of quinoa and vowed to try to find some new kale recipes to convert me to a kale enthusiast. This one recipe did it. Thank you!”
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