Kale Quinoa Pilaf

Kale Quinoa Pilaf

I had gone 24 years without ever trying quinoa.

Heck, 23.5 of those years were spent not even knowing how to pronounce it.

But now, I am a changed woman! I recently bought a box of quinoa from Trader Joes, after hearing a lot about this mystery grain lately, and decided to dive tummy-first into trying it out at home.

Uncooked Quinoa

Sure, I love me some meat and potatoes. But sometimes, a girl’s gotta eat something healthy, don’t you think?

This recipe is a combo of some of my favorite ingredients, including kale. As you know from my post on kale chips, this leafy green is packed with nutrients and is a healthy powerhouse. Plus it tastes great in pretty much every way I’ve prepared it- massaged into a salad, baked into chips, and even steamed into this quinoa salad pilaf. Quinoa is another super food too- very low in cholesterol and sodium, and it’s also a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. Who needs Flintstones vitamins?

While this might rank up there with some of the most tasty dishes I’ve ever made, I definitely can’t take credit for the recipe. I found it on one of my favorite food sites, Food52, which I’ve mentioned a few other times on this blog. If you are a home chef who is looking to learn more about cooking, this is a great environment for foodies- a real community from start to finish. You can ask questions, submit recipes, and connect with other cooks of all culinary skill levels.

Unfortunately, I am not sure that my pictures of this delicious quinoa pilaf do it justice. But if you are looking for a dish that is healthy, filling, and downright scrumptious, you have nothing to lose.

Kale Quinoa Pilaf

from deensiebat on Food52

Serves 2-4


  • 2 cups salted water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, washed and chopped into 1″ lengths (if you can’t find lacinato kale, curly kale works fine too)
  • 1 meyer lemon, zested and juiced (I couldn’t find Meyer lemons in my grocery store, but a normal lemon also worked fine)
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 tablespoon toasted walnut oil or olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • salt and pepper


1) First, toast your pine nuts: Spread pine nuts in a single layer on parchment paper or foil on a pan. Heat in a toaster oven for 3-4 minutes using the toast function- you don’t want the nuts to burn, so keep an eye on them.

2) 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.

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, oil, pine nuts, and goat cheese.

Mixing in the dressing

4) 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.

The dressing of this pilaf is so incredibly creamy, fragrant, and delicious- I am tempted to use it on regular salad. The goat cheese practically melts into the lemony, pine-nutty, scallion-y glaze, making it a concoction of flavors that works perfectly in harmony. No wonder this recipe won the Editors’ Pick and was featured in the Food52 cookbook last year!

Happy Eating 🙂

7 thoughts on “Kale Quinoa Pilaf”

  1. I try Quinoa tonite but cooked it like on the pkg. I added peas that I had left over.It was interesting and I will add something more with the leftovers…Maybe tomatoes?…I was going to put spinach with it but I didn’t have any…..
    I am waiting to have your recipe when I come up in July.

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