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
Test Kitchen Notes
"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&M
"Kale and Quinoa Pilaf, you saucy minx. You arrive all buttoned up, announcing yourself like a Very Healthy Recipe, and then you show your true colors: salty feta, lush pine nuts, and a quick tang of vinegar to keep everything in line.
If there were a Food52 Hall of Fame, Kale and Quinoa Pilaf might be the Michael Jordan. Or at least the Wayne Gretzky. Make it in one pot, laud its healthiness, add enough fat and salt to make it satisfying, and then revisit your leftovers with joy the next day at work. Take pride in your lunch. Bring a real fork to the office. You're worth it." –Marian Bull
"Community member deensiebat, who goes by Deena Prichep, added a recipe for a One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf to our site about 8 years ago—almost to the day. Since then, it has become one of our community's most trusted—and most favorited—recipes. It's a light and airy tumble of some of our favorite ingredients: A citrusy dressing whirls around kale, quinoa, pine nuts, and goat cheese, and the whole thing comes together to form a refreshing but filling weeknight dinner that you can assemble in minutes.
Prichep uploaded it on New Year's Day and we think she may have been up to something. The dish cuts through the slog of holiday snackage and welcomes a new year with a bright, tangy punch. In its years on the site, this recipe has climbed the ranks of popularity. It has garnered over 12,000 likes and upwards of 400 comments, making it a contender for one of our sites most popular recipes.
Prichep's recipe has left an indelible impact not just on our site's archive, but also in the lives of our users. One community member shared an especially glowing review: 'This recipe completely changed the way I eat. I've made it probably 100 times, but more than that it inspired me to start cooking for myself at home, completely transforming my diet and my bank account. I long since memorized the recipe but dug it up to say a huge thank you!... Forgot to add–it's endlessly adaptable. Any steamed grain + any green + any vinegar/oil combination.'" –Valerio Farris
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 30 minutes
- Serves 2 to 4
lacinato kale, washed and chopped into 1" lengths
meyer lemon, zested and juiced
toasted walnut oil
toasted pine nuts
crumbled goat cheese
Salt and pepper
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.