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One-Pot Kale & Quinoa Pilaf (…and why I’ve been MIA)

Wow, I didn’t realize how long it had been since I posted a recipe! January was gone in the blink of an eye. I was traveling the first half…first, a quick little trip down to Cancun to try and get some sun and relaxation for a few days, then Dallas to visit my bestie, and then NYC for a quick work trip. All within two weeks. Add insanely long hours at work, and my blogging and cooking hours have been few and far between.

This recipe isn’t pretty to look at, so instead here are my food adventures from Mexico. Hit and miss, to be honest, because Cancun is (as my mom pointed out) the Branson of Mexico. But we tried really hard to find more authentic local places, and stayed far away from Senor Frog’s.

I drank ALL THE PINA COLADAS and tried Mayan-style chicken and vegetables. Honestly, it was inoffensive but wasn’t a fan.

jess pina colada

We toured Chichen Itza, one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Then we chowed down on fish tacos.

jess mom chichen itza

I soaked up every ray of sunshine available on the only sunny day we had. Vitamin D, come to me! And of course, I had a pina colada and a Coke, which is my go-to beach beverage.

jess cancun beach

I took Argentinean food out for a trial run, with my first trip to Argentina coming up in just over a month! It was delicious and an OBSCENE amount of food (you can’t see the insanely huge chunk of beef staring me in the face…). Sarai and I are going to have our work cut out for us.

jess argentinean food

So, that’s all to say sorry for dropping off the face of the earth. Things have been crazy and tiring, and I haven’t been eating anything but nachos since I’ve been home, but I do have a major backlog of awesome recipes from late December that I owe you. But first, we get our kale on…

This recipe isn’t pretty to look at, but it IS fast, easy, healthy, and yummy. I’ll be honest and say that quinoa isn’t really my thing. It’s fine, but the texture is kind of weird and it’s a little bland. So for me, this recipe is good. If you love quinoa, it’s great. The flavors are fresh, tangy, and satisfying.

One Pot Kale & Qunioa Pilaf kale One Pot Kale & Qunioa Pilaf kale closeup2

You can use pretty much any type of kale, though I don’t recommend regular curly kale if you can avoid it (the texture isn’t as great). But purple, red Russian, baby kale, lacinato/dino—any of these are great. Other greens will work, but I’m not sure really soft, delicate ones like spinach will work as well. You want something with tougher leaves.

one pot kale & quinoa pilaf quinoa cooking

Bring the water to a boil in a covered pot. Add the quinoa, cover, and lower the heat until it is just enough to maintain a simmer.

 

One Pot Kale & Qunioa Pilaf kale closeup

one pot kale & quinoa pilaf kale chopped

De-stem the washed kale and roughly chop.

one pot kale & quinoa pilaf kale cooking

Let the quinoa simmer for 10 minutes, then top with the kale and re-cover. Simmer another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow it to steam for 5 more minutes.
one pot kale & quinoa pilaf scallions

one pot kale & quinoa pilaf pine nuts lemon goat cheese2

While the quinoa is cooking, take a large serving bowl and combine half of the lemon juice (reserving the other half), all of the lemon zest, scallions, walnut oil (you can substitute olive oil if you don’t have it), pine nuts, and goat cheese.

one pot kale & quinoa pilaf assembled

One Pot Kale & Qunioa Pilaf

Check the quinoa and kale when the cooking time has completed—the water should have absorbed, 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 a bit longer (adding more water if needed).

When the last five minutes are up, fluff the pilaf and tip it into the waiting bowl with the remaining ingredients. As the hot quinoa hits the scallions and lemon it will smell really lovely. Toss to combine, seasoning with salt and pepper, and the remaining lemon juice if needed (I didn’t need it).  This is great leftover, at about room temperature—it’s not as great totally hot or cold.

One-Pot Kale & Quinoa Pilaf

  • cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • cup of quinoa (I used white)
  • bunch of lacinato (or other type of) kale, washed & chopped
  • meyer lemon, zested and juiced (regular lemon will work)
  • scallions, minced
  • tablespoon of toasted walnut oil (I didn’t have, so used olive oil)
  • tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup of crumbled goat cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Bring the water to a boil in a covered pot. Add the quinoa, cover, and lower the heat until it is just enough to maintain a simmer.
  2. Let simmer for 10 minutes, then top with the kale and re-cover. Simmer another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to steam for 5 more minutes.
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, take a large serving bowl and combine half of the lemon juice (reserving the other half), all of the lemon zest, scallions, walnut oil (you can substitute olive oil if you desire), pine nuts, and goat cheese.
  4. Check the quinoa and kale when the cooking time has completed—the water should have absorbed, 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 a bit longer (adding more water if needed).
  5. When the quinoa and kale are done, fluff the pilaf, and tip it into the waiting bowl with the remaining ingredients. Toss to combine, seasoning with salt and pepper, and the remaining lemon juice if needed (I didn’t need it).

Original recipe from Food 52

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