Mild in flavor and faster-cooking than rice, quinoa works quite nicely as the base for stews, curries, stir-fry dishes and other saucy recipes, whether vegetarian or meat/seafood-based. But you can also give quinoa a starring role similar to that of risotto, pilaf and other rice-based main courses. This is such a recipe.
You can serve my Savory Quinoa & Kale as a vegetarian/vegan main course (serves 4), or as a side dish with grilled shrimp, roast chicken, pork chops, steaks, roast beef, broiled or grilled fish, or seared scallops (serves 6).
Not sure how to cook quinoa? I've included my "foolproof" instructions for fluffy quinoa at the end of the recipe. I've also included my advice on rinsing.
1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced (to taste)
3 Tbs sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips*
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp EACH of the following dried herbs: Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Rosemary (slightly crushed)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp Kosher salt (to taste)
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 to 2 cups hot cooked quinoa**
Optional toppings: Grated or shredded Parmesan cheese, crumbled feta cheese, toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds, red pepper flakes
Thoroughly rinse the kale and shake off excess water (it's ok for some residual water to remain on the leaves). Strip the leaves off the stems: I hold the end of the stem with one hand and grab the leaf at its base with my other hand, and then pull up to strip the leaf off. Discard the stems and coarsely chop the leaves with a sharp knife.
Heat the oil in a large, deep pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onions in the hot oil until translucent and soft. Add the garlic and keep sauteing until the onion begins to turn light gold. Stir in the kale and cook, stirring frequently, until leaves are bright green and wilted. Add the sundried tomatoes and water, stir, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the kale is tender and the water has evaporated. Uncover and remove from heat, stir in the quinoa, herbs, salt & pepper. Taste for balance and adjust seasonings if desired. Serve "as is" or with any optional topping(s) of your choice.
*If using oil-packed sundried tomatoes, shake off excess oil. If using dry-packed, soak in a little hot water for a few minutes to soften, then drain off the water.
**For fluffy, perfectly-done quinoa, I start with 1 cup raw quinoa (rinsed if necessary) and a scant 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil in a saucepan, cover & reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove saucepan from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with fork. Using this method, 1 cup of raw quinoa yields about 1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked. If you buy quinoa that has not been pre-rinsed, I recommend using a sieve or a superfine colander or mesh strainer--or even a "gold" (reusable) coffee filter if you have one of those--to rinse the quinoa under running water for at least 15-30 seconds.