Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I was going through simultaneous sweet potato and kale phases a few months ago, and I’m currently possessed by a quinoa mania, so when I saw this recipe at Serious Eats, trying it was a no-brainer. It seems better suited for fall or winter than spring, but kale and sweet potatoes are still available at the farmer’s market, so it’s not completely unseasonal. And, as you might expect when bacon and vegetables and quinoa are involved, it was quite tasty.

Since I love roasted kale, I was initially excited to see that both the kale and the sweet potatoes are roasted for this recipe, but now I have some doubts about whether roasting is really the right treatment for kale in this format. First of all, at least in my oven, 475 degrees is pretty high heat for kale; some of mine burned before the sweet potatoes had even gotten golden. If I were to roast the kale again, I’d do it at a lower temperature, then remove it, raise the heat, and roast the sweet potatoes—but that’s a lot more inconvenient for a weeknight meal. And then I felt a little sad stirring that crisp, snackable kale into the warm quinoa, where it just got soft again. It seemed to make the whole pilaf a little on the dry side, and it tasted a bit bitter. Maybe I just overdid my kale, but I do wonder if just wilting the kale in a skillet might be a better option. When fall rolls around, I’ll try it both ways and let you know. But minor kale-roasting quibbles aside, this is a delicious, wholesome, and colorful, and substantial quinoa concoction.

2–4 slices of bacon, diced
1 small onion, cut in half and sliced thin
1 cup quinoa
1½ cups water
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 large sweet potato (about 10 ounces), cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 bunch kale (about 8 ounces), chopped coarsely
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 scallions, green parts only, sliced thin

1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

2. In a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid (I used my Dutch oven), cook the bacon over medium heat until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Reserve the bacon bits.

3. Drop the onions into the hot bacon fat and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 5 minutes. Add the quinoa and toss until coated with the fat and slightly toasted, about 2 minutes more. Add the water and ½ teaspoon of the salt, bring to a boil, stir once, cover, reduce to low, and let cook undisturbed until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

4. While the quinoa is cooking, toss the sweet potatoes and kale with the olive oil and salt and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until the potatoes and kale begin to brown in places and the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

5. When the quinoa is cooked, stir in the potatoes, kale, bacon, and scallions.

Serves: 4
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: Good.

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