Quinoa is one of those once-crunchy, now more-mainstream foods I discovered in the last few years. Naturally gluten-free, a good source of complete protein, calcium, and dietary fiber, I try to include these guys regularly in my diet. But a few months ago, I discovered the dark side of quinoa.
I had just transferred several cups of quinoa to an old yogurt container after noticing a small hole in the original bag. (That's what you get for buying compostable packaging, you dirty hippy.) I set the container down to grab a measuring cup, but apparently had placed it on a not-quite level surface. A couple of teaspoons spilled out onto the stove and the floor. No big deal, right?
Except that it turns out that quinoa is the glitter of the culinary world. The tiny volume of quinoa that escaped managed to slip down into the burners, behind the stove, under the counter, and under the kitchen door in about three seconds. The shopvac scooped up some of the seeds, but not before a sizable number had suctioned themselves onto the bottoms of my bare feet. Even after taking the vacuum to my tootsies, a few scragglers remained, which I then apparently tracked into the living room and onto the couch where I sat cross-legged. When I stood up, there were quinoa seeds everywhere.
I was reminded of the great quinoa incident of 2013 while making this dish today, when I noticed a smattering of quinoa seeds taunting me from the small gap between the tile floor and kitchen wall. Jerks. But I will forgive them, because they serve as an excellent base to this meal. Topped with braised greens, sweet chewy golden raisins, toasted pine nuts, and a soft-boiled or poached egg, this is my go-to lunch/dinner on days when I have class until 9:30pm (like tonight). And while you're welcome to substitute your own favorite dressing, I think the mustard balsamic vinaigrette is what really makes this flavorful dish work.
Braised Kale Over Quinoa With Mustard Balsamic Vinaigrette
Half a bunch of kale
3 tbs golden raisins
1 tbs pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
olive oil, for cooking
salt and pepper, to taste
top with a soft boiled or poached egg
For the Dressing:
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp pomegranate balsamic vinegar* (or your choice)
1 tsp garlic olive oil**
1/2 tsp agave syrup, or to taste
Wash and de-stem kale, then tear into bite-sized pieces. You don't need to dry the leaves after washing.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add kale. Toss in oil and cook for approximately 30 seconds, then turn heat down to low. Cover skillet and let cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes. You may need to add a little water to the pan if the kale starts looking dry. The kale is about ready when the leaves just start to turn brown. Add golden raisins and cook for another minute or two, until the raisins are plump.
In the meantime, in a skillet (or in the toaster oven!), toast pine nuts. If you're using a skillet, toast over low heat, stirring frequently, until you can just start to smell the pine nuts. Add pine nuts and quinoa to the skillet, and cook until heated through.
Top with egg and serve with dressing. Enjoy!
*This is my favorite balsamic vinegar, discovered at the Davis Food Co-op a few years back. I consider it to be a pantry staple around here!
**If you don't have garlic olive oil (another pantry staple of mine), use regular EVOO, and then either add minced garlic to the dressing for a more powerful punch, or cook along with the greens for a more subtle flavor.