Power up with quinoa!

While perusing VegNews today, I found out that 2013 is to be the year of quinoa as declared by the U.N. Crazy right? I haven’t made quinoa for awhile and figured this just might be the perfect time of year to start cooking with it again. Quinoa is gluten-free, contains all eight essential amino acids and is a hefty source of protein too — perfect to get me through the end of the semester and Christmas shopping!

Kale and Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Feta (courtesy dinnerwithjulie.com)

Adapted from Beyond the Plate, where it was inspired by Dorie Greenspan’s Chard Stuffing. Quantities of each ingredient are up to you, of course – adjust each according to your taste.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup dried cranberries
olive oil, for cooking
1 medium shallot or a small chunk of purple onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small bunch of kale
salt and pepper
pinch dried chili flakes (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup pine nuts or 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
a squeeze of lemon (optional)

In a medium pot of boiling salted water, cook the quinoa for 12-14 minutes, until just tender and the germ separates, making a little curly Q. Drain well in a fine sieve, then return to the pot (off the heat, but still warm), add the cranberries, cover with a tea towel and the lid, and set aside to cool.

In a medium skillet set over medium-high heat, heat a drizzle of oil and sauté the shallot or onion for a couple minutes, until soft. Remove the tough ribs from the kale, stack the leaves and thinly slice them. Add to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until wilted. If you like, add a small splash of water to the pan to create steam, and cover for a few minutes. Season with salt and add a pinch of chili flakes, if you like. If you added water, remove the lid and cook until the moisture has cooked off.

Add the kale to the quinoa, along with the feta and pine nuts or walnuts. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Add a squeeze of lemon, if you like. Toss again and serve immediately. Serves 4.

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