One-Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf is a cinch to make and its citrus-y flavor, earthy kale, and toasted-seed crunch. An excellent side dish for roasted meats.
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.
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.
One-Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Use half white and half brown quinoa, toasted (until popping) before cooking.
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 from her home in Portland, Oregon. Her best entertaining tip: “Sangria can be cheaper than a six-pack.”