One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf

By • January 1, 2010 • 383 Comments

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Author Notes: I initially developed this combination by combining sauteed kale with leftover quinoa, but have come up with a from-scratch method to cook both elements together perfectly. It satisfies the eternal resolution to eat healthy, teaming complete-protein quinoa with antioxidant-rich kale. And it's one-pot easy, making it a simple way to incorporate healthy eating into a worknight rotation.deensiebat

Food52 Review: Deensiebat's pilaf breathes new life into a familiar classic. Both the quinoa and the hearty strips of lacinato kale (you can use chard or standard kale) crunch lightly between your teeth, and Meyer lemon juice and zest keep the quinoa from being bland. 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 and cooking it all in one pot. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 2-4

  • 2 cups salted water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, washed and chopped into 1" lengths
  • 1 meyer lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 tablespoon toasted walnut oil
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup 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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Check the quinoa and kale when the cooking time has completed -- 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 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.
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Topics: Weeknight Cooking

Comments (383) Questions (13)


8 days ago dillybug

Great side dish! Added a little leftover Israeli couscous. Love the brightness of the lemon, the toasty crunchiness of the pine nuts and the goats cheese really pulled all the flavors together. Fantastic!


12 days ago Tara

Loved it! I made it last night by the recipe and really enjoyed it. Even ate the leftovers cold for lunch today.


17 days ago chimera

Divine. I added feta but otherwise followed the recipe as written. Absolutely delicious and satisfying and so flavorful! On the table in 20 minutes from start to finish - can't beat that. This goes into the weekly rotation!


19 days ago jlabbe

This recipe has been in heavy rotation in my household for a while, and I love it! Just wanted to share a wintery, Christmas-y variation that worked well for a holiday potluck: substitute red quinoa, and chestnuts for the pine nuts -- delicious! Thank you, deensiebat :)


about 1 month ago amykelinda

I made this last night and it was so good! I made quinoa a few times before and never liked it, but this dish has changed my opinion of it. Such bright flavors with the lemon, and the kale and pine nuts make it much more hearty. I didn't add the goat cheese because I tend to not like cheese in these types of dishes and I'm still super pleased with it. And it's so quick to put together too!


about 1 month ago fanaledrinks

Excellent dish for any occasion.


2 months ago Stephen Morallee

I've made this dish about 5 times in the last 2 weeks and love it. I've been reading up on Kale and found out that it is very high in Oxylates and then when cooking it - it's important to throw out the water - for this reason I've steamed the kale on the side whilst the quinoa is cooking - it's also allowed me to time it a little better so they both cook perfectly. Found this link about problems with raw kale/kale cooking water https://www.bulletproofexec...


about 1 month ago Glenn

Great link! Thank you.


2 months ago Sarah

Delicious! I used feta instead of goats cheese which added some salt. Also walnuts instead of pine nuts. Lovely and nutty. Great dish!


3 months ago ella11

Really liked this! Added sumac as someone suggested and used a regular lemon with no scallions. Great dish and seems great for lunch. it did seem a little bitter- perhaps I should've rinsed the quinoa more?


3 months ago shortnsweet

Just finished making this, and it's delicious. It was my first time cooking both quinoa and kale--I know, I know--but it came together as simply as the directions promised.

I can't do dairy, so I switched it up a little--golden raisins plumped in a little hot water, instead of the cheese--and went with half a lemon. Light with the right hint of sweetness and crunch.


3 months ago Stephen Morallee

This was superb. I made it the first time with the juice of the whole lemon and it was little too much for me. Second time half the lemon and also added a tablespoon of Sumac and half a teaspoon of Aleppo Chilli. Will be making this a lot - thank you.


3 months ago stephanieRD

Made this last night for dinner as a main dish. I really liked it- very hearty with the quinoa and kale. Plus, I love the nutty flavor of the quinoa mixed in with the tender greens. I used a truffle chevre and it was divine.


4 months ago Chef Devaux

I love Quinoa....


5 months ago Negar Siadatnejad

I've made this dish many times and it has always came out wonderfully. I made the dish using toasted pumpkin seeds instead of pine nuts and it was delicious!


6 months ago Paula V

Delicious. Made it once with goat cheese and another time without. Both times the dish was great!


6 months ago Elizabeth LeBlanc

i added tomatoes and grapes, and deleted the pine nuts and scallions; it was so good! i did the mixing all in the hot pot so the goat cheese got nice and melty! I love that this is such an easy base recipe that can be personalized a million ways.


7 months ago Jes Anderson

wow. that was surprisingly really tasty for so few ingredients! i didn't use the lemon zest, mainly because i missed that i needed a real lemon, i just used lemon juice from the bottle... dont judge me... i will make this again, so easy and so tasty.


7 months ago Petite fee

My friend made this and it was De-Lish!!


7 months ago patw

Thanks so much for this recipe, I make it all the time, everyone loves it. It's so simple to make and so fun to tweak. I've eaten it cold, but I usually don't have leftovers : )


9 months ago chris

I happened to have spinach languishing in the refrigerator, and some fresh beet greens, so, I made it immediately. Absolutely delicious, though it looked a bit sloppy after I tossed the warm quinoa with the goat cheese. My husband gave it a totally negative look, but finished up scraping the bowl for more. I'll double the recipe, next time, and save some to try with mango for a salad. New comfort food!