Quick Weeknight Dinner Recipe – Quinoa with Balsamic Sweet Potatoes and Kale

I have a weird relationship with quinoa – that wonder of a trick that cooks like a grain, nourishes like a protein, is most closely related to beets, but is actually a seed. (Huh?) I’ve gone through periods where I eat it every possible opportunity, and others when I avoid it like the plague for months on end. Of course there’s no rhyme or reason to this tumultuous love affair. Today? Sign me up for the fan club, I’m on a quinoa-kick.

I mixed it here with kale and sweet potatoes and a shot of balsamic vinegar for a forkful of nutty, sweet, earthy, sour, salty goodness. It’s a weeknight workhorse of a recipe because I keep all these ingredients around anyway, and it took just under 30 minutes to make. Serve with grilled chicken breasts or a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store for a dinner that I’d actually serve to company. Or, jump on the Meatless Monday bandwagon with this dish, and you won’t even miss the meat. You’ll feel great after eating it because it’s a good source of iron, vitamin C, vitamin A, and calcium, and it’s low in fat but hearty and satisfying since it has lots of fiber and protein.

Bottom line: this little dinner was one of the fastest, most nutritious, downright delicious things I’ve made in a long time. AND? It tasted even better the next day at lunch. (Did I mention it cost about $6 to make the whole batch?) Stop what you’re doing. Proceed to kitchen. Cook and eat copious amounts of quinoa with balsamic sweet potatoes and kale. You can thank me later.

Sweet potatoes and kale rank right up there among my most favorite things to eat, and they’re abundant this time of year at the farmers market. But, if they’re not your top choices, you can easily swap in vegetables you do like. Grab a can of Muir Garden Fire Roasted Tomatoes, drain most of the liquid, and saute with sliced onions and a bag of spinach. Mix with the quinoa and a drizzle of balsamic. You might just forgo spaghetti night next time around in favor of that. Or in the spring when you have asparagus coming out of your ears, add that and some sugar snap peas. Or some roasted chunks of butternut squash and craisins. (That one’s for you, SUE!.) You really can’t go wrong here. You can buy quinoa packaged in the grains aisle of most grocery stores. At my market, it’s available in the bulk bins for $1.99 a pound.

Give it a try and let me know how you fare. I would offer to share some of mine with you, but I’m finishing off the last of it today for lunch. Enjoy!

Quinoa with Balsamic Sweet Potatoes and Kale

Click here to print this recipe.
Serves: 3-4 entree-size servings
Time to prepare: 30 minutes

3/4 cup dry quinoa
1 1/4 cup water
1 large sweet potato, 1/4 – 1/2″ dice
1 large bunch kale, chopped into bite size
olive oil
kosher salt
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Dice the sweet potato into 1/4 – 1/2″ pieces. Spread on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil and a 3-finger pinch of salt, and toss to coat. Bake 15 minutes (or until soft), stirring every 5 minutes.

Rinse the quinoa well in a fine mesh sieve with cold water for 2 minutes. Rub the quinoa between your fingers while rinsing; this vigorous rinsing removes the outer coating, and helps remove bitterness.

Place the rinsed quinoa and water in a saucepan. Bring the water to a rapid boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave covered for 5 minutes. If there is still liquid remaining in the pan, uncover and turn on the heat and stir until all the liquid is gone. Fluff with a fork.

In a saute pan over medium-high heat, add the kale, a drizzle of olive oil, and a 3-finger pinch of salt. Toss with tongs, and cook until bright green and slightly softened, about 4 minutes. (Work in batches if you don’t have a large enough pan.)

In a serving dish, combine the sweet potatoes, kale, and quinoa, and scraping the baking sheet and saute pan to add any cooking liquids to the mix. Drizzle with about 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar, and toss to mix well. Check for seasonings, and serve hot or room temperature.

Per Serving:
calories: 230
fat: 5g
saturated fat: .5g
trans fat: 0
cholesterol: 0
total carbs: 42g
dietary fiber:  6.5g
protein: 7g

Take that Lean Cuisine – cheaper and waaaayyy more nutritious, and it actually tastes like food!

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Comments: 2

  1. Christina Ponzio January 30, 2013 at 7:22 am Reply

    This looks fantastic! I’m gonna make this next week!

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