Kale and Quinoa Pilaf

kale and quinoa pilaf


Kale and quinoa? You might think this dish is too healthy to taste any good, but you’d be wrong. If you’re trying to eat, this is a good start. But even if you’re not, this is a great dinner! It’s quick to cook up, dirties exactly one pot and the serving bowl, you can make it ahead of time and it’s tasty, too! What more can you ask for in a meal?The first time I made this, I used red swiss chard, which resulted in the prettiest pink dinner. The next time, I used kale, like the original recipe calls for. I prefer the taste of kale, but the look of the chard. Oh, and if you can’t find a meyer lemon, a regular one works just fine, too. I used olive oil instead of the toasted walnut oil in the recipe; if you have it use it, but I didn’t want to go out and buy it.

I served this at book club, and even my goat cheese-hating friend liked it! I didn’t tell her what was making it so creamy until after, but really she just likes goat cheese and doesn’t know it.


Kale and Quinoa Pilaf from Food52


  • 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 olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • salt and pepper


  1. In a pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the quinoa, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Put the kale in the pot on top of the quinoa and re-cover. Simmer another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to steam for 5 more minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, take a large serving bowl and combine the lemon zest, half of the lemon juice (reserving the other half), scallions, oil, pine nuts and goat cheese.
  4. When the quinoa and kale are done, fluff it and tip it into the waiting bowl with the remaining ingredients. Toss to combine, season with salt and pepper and the remaining lemon juice if needed.
  • Michelle

    Hehe the goat cheese hating friend did love it. As did I–can’t wait to make this!

    • jessica matthews

      who’s the goat cheese hating friend? sarah?

      • yeah, she wished i never told her about the goat cheese. though clearly she likes it!

  • Melinda Strauss

    I really love that you added kale to this dish. For some reason, I never cook with kale but this is such a simple application and I absolutely adore quinoa.

  • Ronnie fein

    I love all these ingredients; always buy lacinato kale when I can. Maybe it’s healthy but also really tasty and it pairs well with quinoa. I like the addition of Meyer lemon, which isn’t as tart as a regular lemon. And I like the soft, tart goat cheese together with toasty, crunchy pignolis. Just wonderful.

  • These are all my flavorite ingredients. I even find my kids gobble up the lacinato kale so it is so worth the extra money.

  • Chanie@BusyInBrooklyn

    This combines two of my favorite ingredients, can’t wait to try it!

  • Sina

    for some reason, I cant find meyer lemons as easily. i love this dish and would totally make it. i just need to tell the family it’s spinach, kale might sound scary to them.

    • i bought mine at fairway.
      it would probably be tasty with spinach, too!

  • Sounds good. I love kale, we often make kale chips or juice it.

  • This looks so healthy! I would add spinach for another added dose of green, but I love kale!

  • As the aforementioned “goat cheese hating friend,” i can attest that it was quite yummy!

  • Sarah Klinkowitz

    Not fond of kale, do you think broccoli would work instead?

  • love kale, love quinoa, love goat cheese — no complaints here 🙂

  • This sounds like a great combination of flavors!