In my efforts to eat healthier and explore healthier food options, I came across this recipe. I had heard of quinoa (say keen-wa) before, I'd even bought some that had been sitting in my pantry for quite a while, but I had never cooked it or eaten it anywhere. A little research revealed that this grain contains more protein than any other grain. One website indicates that there are varieties of quinoa that are more than 20 percent protein, making this grain a boon for vegetarians.
And kale. Touted as one of the world's "super foods", kale has risk-lowering benefits for at least five different types of cancers, including cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate(1). It comprehensively supports the body's detoxification system. Kale's extremely high vitamin-K content ("one cup of kale provides far more micrograms of vitamin K than any of our 135 World's Healthiest foods"(1)) makes it a champion in anti-inflammatory properties.
But does this all taste good??
In a word, Yes.
I love this dish so much, I've made it at least once a week for the last several weeks. In addition to my dinner, the leftovers heat up beautifully, becoming my lunch for the next couple of days. The toasted pine nuts add a bit of crunch, the dried cranberries give it a touch of sweetness, the sauteed shallots give it a tiny bit of caramelization that I just adore. Don't forget the salt... it definitely needs it. And definitely don't forget to thoroughly rinse the quinoa or your dish will have an awfully bitter aftertaste. You can smell the saponins on the quinoa. You'll know you've rinsed the grain enough - you won't smell the bitter coating at all any longer.
Thanks to Beyond the Plate for this wonderful recipe. I am deeply grateful!
Kale, Cranberry and Quinoa Salad2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 ounces/ 56 grams pine nuts
1/2 pound/ 260 grams kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium shallot (about 2 ounces/50 grams) peeled and thinly sliced
3 ounces/ 85 grams dried cranberries
1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir the mixture about 10 minutes into cooking to prevent the quinoa from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Set aside.
Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry saute pan over low heat. Watch them carefully so they don't burn. Remove from the heat and reserve.
Remove the stems of the kale, then stack the leaves and thinly slice. Finely chop the stems as well.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the kale and the cranberries, stir, then leave to cook, covered, for about 5 minutes.
Add the pine nuts, chili flakes (if using) and salt, stir and leave to cook again, covered, for another 5 minutes. If the kale starts to stick to the pan, add some water, a tablespoon at a time. (I use a non-stick skillet which eliminates any concern of, um, stickage...)You want just enough moisture to create steam in the skillet, but not too much to give you a sauce.
Toss the kale mixture and quinoa in a medium bowl and serve immediately, or at room temperature. (My personal preference is to serve this warm!)