One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf

By • January 1, 2010 • 342 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&MA&M

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.

Comments (342) Questions (12)


3 days ago Matt Robinson

I will be making this in a few days, great reading what people substituted, looks amazing.


4 days ago mary

So happy to find this flavorful recipe today to help me use up several ingredients on hand for lunch. I roasted a couple garlic cloves with the pine nuts in sesame oil and added all ingredients in the same pot after the quinoa and kale were done. Threw in some leftover artichoke hearts. Subbed green onion for shallots (threw them in with the kale to simmer), sesame oil for walnut and fresh parmesan for goat cheese. Loved it! I will definitely top this with an egg for breakfast tomorrow. Many thanks!


5 days ago Barbara

I substituted dandelion greens and wild garlic for kale, and the dish turned out divine!


23 days ago Marisa

Made this for lunch today. Subbed feta for goat cheese, walnuts for pine nuts and added dried cranberries. So good!! Thanks


24 days ago Gaia Goodness Natural Foods

Kale is my favorite and I've been wanting to incorporate more quinoa into my diet. I eat Kale every day so i am in need of some new recipes. This sounds amazing. I'd even add a fried egg to the mix for a satisfying breakfast.


30 days ago Kristy

This was so easy and completely satisfying and delicious. My husband is not a vegetarian but I cook that way, and he was in heaven! I loved the lacinato, and added some red chile flakes for heat.


22 days ago Rebecca Cherry

We aren't vegetarian either but, also love this dish. Thought about some chili flakes, too. I snuck in some pancetta, last time. It added a nice salty, crunch.


about 1 month ago Lex Nelson

Just made this, absolutely amazing! Used regular kale (not lacinato) and didn't add any lemon zest. The flavors were still fantastic. Next time I'll cut the kale a bit smaller. Thank you for sharing!


about 1 month ago FarmerJim

I am new to Quinoa. Would this be considerate a main dish or side. If side what would you suggest as a side?
Sounds very good, thank you.


about 1 month ago Elena Ho

Is good! Didn't have goat cheese in the fridge so I substituted it with grated parmesan, worked very well :) Thanks for sharing!


about 1 month ago Robert

A very good dish; my first experiment from Food 52. Substituted pre-washed baby kale to save time. Added to the pot when quinoa was almost done. Flavors really came together at the end. Also, used olive oil, and no lemon zest. Worked fine. Thanks for the recipe.


about 1 month ago Butterfield Beef & Berry Farm

Loved this. We used red quinoa, which I find has even more flavor. This was part of our meatless Monday so we served it up with a huge green salad and a socca (chickpea pizza) with tomatoes, onions and parm mixed into the dough. My husband loved it but he's still complaining about no meat on Mondays. Perhaps I'll stop calling Mondays meatless and still stick with the plan.


2 months ago Donna

How do you roast walnut oil.


about 1 month ago Rachel

Hi Donna, toasted-, or roasted-walnut oil is oil that has been made from toasted or roasted walnuts, as opposed to walnut oil that is then roasted :-) You can buy it ready-made. Hope this helps.


22 days ago Rebecca Cherry

I threw in toasted sesame oil, instead. its easier to find and has intense flavor so I spilt it with olive oil. i think the oil's toastiness enhanced the pine nuts' nuttiness.


3 months ago Stephanie

I upped:
quinoa by a 1/2 cup
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 and half - 3.5oz goat cheese containers

I also sauteed 2 packages of extra firm tofu in walnut oil with garlic powder and onion powder and then tossed that into the pilaf.

Last I added Sriracha and tossed the concoction...DELISH!

Thanks for the easy tasty recipe deensiebat!!!


3 months ago Victoria P

This turned out great! I used coconut oil instead of walnut oil and also added a few cloves of garlic.


3 months ago Diana Ascarrunz

I like to add cayenne and extra lemon to this recipe.


3 months ago Elizabeth32

this was delicious! Used feta cheese and double the amount called for - a definite keeper recipe.


3 months ago melbelgibson

This is one of the most delicious things I've every eaten. It was so easy too! I didn't have goat cheese, so I subbed in a little feta which was perfect! YUM!


4 months ago Stumpstein

Of all the places to find a great website, I found food52 in the December issue of Entrepreneur magazine. I love taking risks in the kitchen, and it looks like I have plenty of company here. This quinoa/kale recipe is perfectly simple and basic enough to add a personal twist.


4 months ago deanna

I used 1.5 cups water to cook the quinoa, and used half white and half brown quinoa and only put the kale in the last 5 minutes. Dressing of local olive oil, lots of lemon, toasted walnuts, feta, finely chopped red onion. Good recipe to tweak.


4 months ago William H. Blount

Can this recipe be anymore fufu? I used Emoyan Saffron and Tyrolean Pine Nuts and my guests thought it was fabulous!