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 is...you 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
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
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 2-quart gratin or baking dish with cooking spray.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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