Kale, Cannellini and Quinoa Pilaf

kale and quinoa pilafThis is a quick post about this simple meal which I can’t seem to get enough of at the moment. I was going through Anjum’s Indian Vegetarian Feast  and thought I’d give the recipe a try. Two days later and I’ve made it 3 times already, and becoming addicted to it. It only takes about 20 minutes to make too.Unfortunately my family members can’t seem to understand my fascination, but I don’t mind, at least I can have it all to myself! I suppose I have to be careful of not over-eating it as this would defeat the purpose of the exercise of consuming food in moderate portion sizes. It’s delicious served warm alongside a salad or steamed vegetables, or you could use it cold as a salad for lunch. I would even happily have it for breakfast as a kedgeree. I told you I’m getting addicted.

Some food facts if you’re interested..

Quinoa, pronounced ‘qeen-wa’ is a simple grain substitute for couscous or rice originated from South America. Technically it is a Peruvain seed that is related to green vegetables. Quinoa is a vegetarian food with complete amino acids (found in eggs, meat, etc) and is also high in protein and iron. When cooked, the seeds split, oozing small white curls like a moon.

I recently read this article regarding the ethics of farming this grain and the poor wages their farmers get in return to the high new demands form the west. Thankfully, the packet I got was labelled ‘Fair-Trade’ and organic. I don’t know if that still helps, but as with anything it’s best to have at least some insight and know both sides of the story. 

Kale, packed with many nutrients, including vitamin C, K, iron, beta-carotene, soluble fibre and some phytochemicals such a sulforaphane and indoles. Phytochemicals are thought to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Cannellini Beans are creamy delicate beans, high in protein and full of soluble and insoluble fibre. Both fibres are essential in healthy digestion and regular bowel movement. Soluble fibre slows down the rate at which food leaves the stomach, delaying sugar absorption into the blood stream, and hence reducing the dreaded insulin ‘spike’.

Adopted from Anjum’s Indian Vegetarian Feast

Kale, Cannellini and Quinoa Pilaf – serves 2 / 3

Note: You can cook quinoa using the ratio of 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water; simply bring to boil and cook covered until nice and tender. Alternatively use the draining method explained below for less mushy grains. 

  • 150-170 g / 6 oz/ 1 cup  quinoa
  • 2 large handfuls of kale, thick stalks removed and roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 whole red chilli, de-seeded 
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed, optional
  • sea salt to taste
  • 400 g/ 14oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime, or to taste

Place the quinoa in a saucepan of water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until just done, 15-18 minutes. The seeds will burst a little. Drain well, then return to the hot pot, off the heat. 

Meanwhile, heat the oil, add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook until the mustard stops popping and the cumin has coloured. Add the chopped chilli and cook for a further minute. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, if using, reduce the heat and cook for just about a minute. (Garlic burns easily so always keep an eye on it.)

Add the kale, season with sea salt and then cover and cook over a medium heat until the kale is slightly soft, but still retains some crunch, about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the beans, black pepper and the lemon/lime juice and cook until the beans are heated through and not longer, otherwise you’ll end up with really mushy beans. Add the drained/cooked quinoa and fold through with a fork. Taste, adjust seasoning and lemon juice, then serve.



2 thoughts on “Kale, Cannellini and Quinoa Pilaf

  1. Kawther

    This looks great! I would love to try it, and such a healthy alternative to our usual rice staple…
    I might try it with butter beans 🙂 or even chickpeas


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