Monday, January 23, 2012

Q is for: Quinoa & Kale Gratin

You may have heard of quinoa. Maybe you've even tried it. If you like it, you're gonna love this recipe. If you're one of those people in the "it tastes too much like healthy hippie food" camp...I think you still might like this.

For starters, it has cheese in it. Instantly ups the flavor value. I also always use chicken or veggie broth when cooking the quinoa, and it really helps in the taste department as well.

Now if you're totally lost and have no idea what the heck quinoa should totally check it out. It's considered an ancient grain and once considered the "gold of the Incas." It looks sort of like cous cous, but it's actually related to leafy vegetables like swiss chard. It's gluten free, and it's a full protein on its own (so a great source of amino acids for you vegetarians out there).

I adapted this recipe from one I saw in the New York Times. That one called for spinach, but I had lacinto kale on hand, so I used that. But if you're not a huge fan of kale, you can use any sort of leafy green such as spinach or chard. I've found the easiest way to cut them is to remove the ribs, stack the leaves, roll them into a cigar shape, and slice them.

Heat about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute chopped onions and garlic until soft, then add the kale. Cook until wilted. (You might need to add a little water to help with this process).

Once kale mixture is done cooking, mix it together with the cooked quinoa, sage, thyme, eggs and cheeses.

Scrape into a greased gratin or baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil over the top and bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. I think this is great on its own as a main dish, but would also work as a side dish.

Quinoa & Kale Gratin

by Jaymee Sire
adapted from the New York Times
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Keywords: bake entree side gluten-free vegetarian quinoa parmesan cheese cheese kale

Ingredients (4 servings)
  • 1 bunch lacinto kale, ribs removed and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 plump garlic cloves, minced
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup dry quinoa, prepared according to manufacturer's instructions (use broth, not water)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Pecorino cheese (optional)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 2-quart gratin or baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Heat a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute onion and garlic until soft. (3-4 minutes) Add sliced kale and cook until wilted, adding water to the pan if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  3. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in the quinoa, the onion and spinach mixture, the white cheddar, Pecorino, sage and thyme. Add freshly ground pepper and stir the mixture together. Scrape into the gratin dish.
  4. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and drizzle on the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Place in the oven and bake until nicely browned on top, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to sit for about 5 minutes, and serve.
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  1. This looks wonderful and I plan to prepare it for dinner tonight. I followed you on Twitter because of your work on CSNBA but am loving the food blog and recipes.
    Thanks so much,

    1. Thanks so much for the note Lorie...let me know how it turns out!

  2. If you buy Quinoa in bulk it's good to rinse it first- that washes away the taste of the saponins on it which are kind of bitter.

    I like cooking thick carrot rounds in with the quinoa because they come out just right on time, you can also do onions in thick slices, or in half red onions in particular. This is a good way to get the nutrient benefit and you make a veggie broth that way. Kale I just throw on top when it's hot, you can cook it but there's even more value in it raw. Fresh from the garden the taste is hard to beat, likewise fresh chicken eggs.

    Quinoa is super versatile, it's no wonder the Aztecs lived on it. I do a very similar frittata with quinoa and also millet in a dutch oven on top of a low fired wood stove. There's a few ways to go with it, like you do here with a more Greek or Italian style, you can also go with spicy peppers, roasted tomatos and cilantro to get a Mexican kind of dish that pairs well with cheddar cheese, millet works best that way. There's even a great spicy curry I do sometimes by cooking the quinoa with curry.

  3. It looks like you are as much of a kale fiend as I am. Here in Scotland we grow various types of kale year-round so it is a cheap way of getting a bundle of nutrients. It is surprisingly versatile, as your recipes show. I have had a recipe featured on the front page of recently (still there, I think) and kale is the surprise ingredient. As a cancer health educator/nutritionist and food blogger I am always coming up with recipes that include kale, quinoa and/or butternut squash to try out on family, and patients who attend my cancer and nutrition classes (for patients & families). This looks a great one to pass on. I like your salad too. Glad I found your blog.

  4. I have made this twice now, the first time to spec and the second time with some finely chopped cremini mushrooms (sauteed first) and a little nutmeg (try it!!).

    I cook the quinoa in veg broth and white wine.... all in all, delicious! Thanks for this recipe!

  5. It looks so delicious, definitely this is a recipe to try.


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