Sunday, October 23, 2011

Quinoa with Kale and Sweet Potatoes

Fall in a Bowl

I'm never really sure what to call this kind of dinner. It's really a shame that there's no good name for it because I eat this sort of thing all the time. Cook a grain. Cook some vegetables. Put them together in a bowl. I think some corporate lunch spots refer to it as a "rice bowl" or something, but that makes it sound like something... from a corporate lunch spot. Hm.

So I'll just say it's a simple one dish dinner or an excellent side that comes together quickly: the kale and sweet potatoes cook while the quinoa simmers. And hey, look how pretty it looks next to the centerpiece I took from my cousin's wedding!

Quinoa Bowl

Quinoa with Kale and Sweet Potatoes
serves 2-3 as a light meal, or more as a side dish

A note on cheese: I used an aged goat cheese called Colombier from the cheese shop where I work, and I liked the flaky texture and tang in this dish. Classic chevre would be a good fit but creamier, or a sharp feta would be a great counterpoint to the sweet potato.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small bunch kale, stems removed, leaves cut into 1/2" wide strips
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large pinch red pepper flakes (optional if you like it spicy)
2 ounces tangy cheese of your choice (see note)
olive oil
salt and pepper
a beverage for the cook

Combine the quinoa and two cups of water with a hefty pinch of salt in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. It should be done in about 20 minutes.

Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat, then add a tablespoon of olive oil and when it shimmers, add the sweet potatoes in one layer. Partially cover the pan and cook for a few minutes, then stir or shake the pan so the cubes of sweet potato flip and cook on another side. Repeat the steaming/shaking action a few times until the sweet potatoes are cooked. They'll be browned on a few sides, you might have to adjust the heat down a bit if they're browning faster than you'd like. This could take 5-10 minutes depending on the size of your dice.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, deglaze the pan with a splash of water, or wine or beer if you're drinking while you cook (ahem). The liquid will help you scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Season the sweet potatoes with salt and pepper and remove to another bowl.

Add another little splash of olive oil to the pan, then add the garlic and chili flakes and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant, then add the kale and saute, stirring, until wilted and tender. This could take anywhere from 2- 8 minutes, depending on how tender you like your kale. Season the kale with salt and pepper. Add the sweet potatoes back to the skillet if they've cooled.

By now your quinoa should be done (if it's done earlier, just shut off the heat and leave the lid on. It'll be fine.). Fluff the quinoa with a fork, then put some quinoa in a couple of bowls and top with the sweet potatoes and kale. Crumble the cheese on top and drizzled with a little more olive oil. Mmm, fall in a bowl*.

*You know, I thought about calling this post "fall in a bowl" but then I figured somebody might  think I ran around tripping and ending up in a cereal vessel. Nope. Autumn in a bowl just wasn't as catchy. Look at the dilemmas we bloggers face! My goodness.


  1. Hi Honey, this dish looks great, I especially like how you styled it with the wedding centerpiece and that gorgeous tablecloth! Love, Mom
    PS The 7 hr braised lamb was delish, thanks again for that cookbook.

  2. I made dish almost identical to this--quinoa is largely unavailable; I used brown rice--and ate it in my pajamas while reading a book. Fall cannot be beat.

  3. I make meals like this all the time. I call 'em rice bowls or grain bowls but whatever - I don't know what passes for corporate lunch places since I work from home in pjs :)