One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf

by Anne Bennett on May 2, 2012

Lacinato kale has longer, milder tasting leaves than the more common curly kale. Even Whitman likes it!

One of my favorite food blogs is the brainchild of New York Times food columnist Amanda Hesser, author of the James Beard award winning “The Essential New York Times Cookbook,” and co-author Merrill Stubbs.

In the course of writing the cookbook, Amanda and Merrill realized that there was no venue online where inventive cooks could share their own recipes.

Food 52.com is just such a place. Cooks from all over the world can contribute ideas and recipes, and even compete for best recipes in different food categories.

The following recipe won the contest for, “Your Best New Year’s Resolution Dish”.

I initially hesitated to try this for obvious reasons. Come on, you’re thinking the same thing: kale? Quinoa? New Year’s resolution? Sounds like a recipe for low-cal tasteless disaster.

Alas, I was so wrong. This is not a diet dish; it is not a vegetarian dish, per say. What it is, is a delicious, not-very-traditional main course (or side dish if you must have animal protein. I’m thinking grilled shrimp alongside.) that literally bursts with the fresh flavors of lemon and feta cheese. And it takes less than a half hour from start to finish.

Be sure to check out Food 52. Amanda and Merrill believe that cooking your own food is essential to a good life. Their credo:

If you cook, your family will eat dinner together.
If you cook, you will naturally have a more sustainable household.
If you cook, you’ll set a lifelong example for your children.
If you cook, you’ll understand what goes into food and will eat more healthily.
If you cook, you’ll make your home an important place in your life.
If you cook, you’ll make others happy.
If you cook, people will remember you.

I couldn’t have said it better.

One note about quinoa: it has a natural, bitter tasting coating that must be rinsed off before cooking. I buy my quinoa at Costco, which is pre-washed and thus needs no rinsing. Be sure to read the label to see if your quinoa is already rinsed.

One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf

2 cups salted water
1 cup quinoa
1 bunch kale, preferably lacinato kale*, washed and cut into 1″ lengths
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 scallions, minced
1 T. toasted walnut oil, or olive oil
3 T. toasted pine nuts**
1/4 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
salt and pepper

*also known as black kale, Tuscan kale or dinosaur kale

**To toast pine nuts, place them in a heated skillet and watch them carefully, shaking the pan often. Pine nuts cook, and burn, quickly, so don’t leave them untended.

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add quinoa, cover and simmer at a very low heat for 10 minutes. Top with the kale, recover and simmer another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to steam for 5 more minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl combine the walnut oil with the lemon zest, half of the lemon juice and all of the scallions.

Check the quinoa and kale–the water should be absorbed and the quinoa should be tender but firm. If it is not, steam it a bit longer. When the quinoa and kale are done, add them to the serving bowl and toss to mix the ingredients. Add the toasted pine nuts and cheese, salt and pepper to taste and gently toss again. Add the remaining lemon juice if needed.

Serves 4

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