Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Curried Quinoa Pilaf with Tuscan Kale

Tonight I will be teaching a class called "Cooking for a Small Household". The four recipes that I teach in this class are presented as representatives of four "types" or categories: Dinners from the Pantry, Meals that Freeze Well, Baked Goods, and The Traditional Meal (protein-vegetable-starch). In the latter category I will be teaching a spice rubbed salmon served with a curried quinoa pilaf. With the addition of a side vegetable, this makes a fast, nutritious and very tasty meal (no matter what the size of your household).

The pilaf portion of this "traditional meal" is quite versatile. It would be nice with shrimp...or chicken...or as the centerpiece of a big platter of vegetables. It pairs well with so many different vegetables (blanched broccoli, braised greens, roasted cauliflower or carrots, blanched green beans, grilled/sautéed summer squash, etc.), you could hardly go wrong.

For our dinner a few nights ago, I made the pilaf (and salmon) along with some sautéed Tuscan Kale. But this time, instead of serving the kale as a true "side vegetable", I chopped it up and folded it into the pilaf. I was very pleased with the result. Not only was it delicious....it was beautiful. And if you happen to have any leftovers (next time I might make a double batch so I will...) they would make for a very nice one-dish lunch the next day.

Curried Quinoa Pilaf with Tuscan Kale

1 bunch Tuscan Kale, stems stripped away and discarded
1/2 T. unsalted butter (or more, as needed)
1/2 c. finely diced onion 
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. coriander
1/8 t. turmeric
1/2 c. quinoa, well-rinsed and drained
2 T. currants
1 T. olive oil
3 T. toasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1 or 2 T. chopped parsley 

Pilaf ingredients (without the kale)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the kale and cook until tender. Lift out and spread on a baking sheet until cool enough to handle. Working with one handful of greens at a time, squeeze out the excess water. Chop coarsely and set aside. 

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the onion along with a pinch of salt and cook until tender and translucent (add more butter or some olive oil if the onions seem dry). Add the spices and toast for a minute or two. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring to coat in the fat until hot through. Add 2/3 c. of water (see notes) along with 1/4t. of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes—or until cooked through. The grain will be translucent and the thin germ coil will be white. Remove from the heat, scatter the raisins over the surface of the quinoa and let rest, covered for 5 to 10 minutes. 

While the quinoa rests, warm a tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan set over moderate heat. Add the greens and toss to heat through, breaking up the clumps as you do. (If you like, you may add a small clove of minced garlic and/or a pinch of pepper flakes to the oil as it is heating up—allow it to begin to sizzle before adding the greens.)

To serve the pilaf, add the warm greens, the pistachios and the parsley. Fluff with a fork. Taste and correct the seasoning. Serves 2 to 3 (but the recipe is easily multiplied to serve more). 


  • Typically when I cook quinoa I use a ratio of 1 1/4 parts liquid to 1 part quinoa (which is much less than the standard recommendation of 2 to 1, which I think yields a soggy final product). However, when cooked in smaller quantities, a little extra liquid is needed...so for 1/2 cup of quinoa I use 2/3 cup liquid. If this produces a result that is firmer than you would like, increase the liquid to 3/4 cup.
  • If you are unfamiliar grain pilafs, check out my "basics" post from a couple of years ago. 
  • As with any spiced dish, you should increase or decrease the amount of spice to suit your palate.
  • This dish may of course be made in its original form...without the addition of the kale.

Printable Recipe


amymom24 said...

Hi Paige! I just found your blog through a google search for a recipe. I love your thorough directions and all the added information you have with each recipe. I will be spending a lot of time reading tomorrow :)

Paige said...

Hi Amy! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I hope that you enjoy the things you read on my blog and that you cook up something delicious with what you find!