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30 min or less, Easy, Gluten Free, Lunch, Nut free, Oil free, Side dishes, Under 400 calories, Vegan Recipes

Simple Kale Quinoa

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This Simple Kale Quinoa can be made in 25 minutes with just 10 ingredients. It’s packed with plant-based protein and also super versatile. Add extra veggies, chickpeas or tofu for a fuller meal.

Kale Quinoa with pine nuts in a white bowl with a fork.

I love this quick and easy Kale Quinoa recipe because it’s ridiculously easy, requires very little ingredients, and is super healthy. It’s a great base recipe and extremely versatile to fit your needs/tastes.

The Health Benefits of Quinoa:

Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) has become one of the world’s favorite foods in the last decade (and for the past 5000 years in some cultures) for good reason.

Naturally gluten-free, quinoa is a whole grain that has SO many health benefits. It’s high in plant-based protein, fiber, magnesium, folate, iron, zinc, potassium, B-vitamins, fatty acids, and much more. It’s also non-GMO, and usually grown organically.

Quinoa is also really quick to cook up in just 15 minutes, making it an easy, nutritious choice for vegans and vegetarians.

Interesting fact: NASA scientists have even been looking into growing it in outer space, due to it’s nutrition and simplicity to make!

So really, I don’t see a reason NOT to eat this healthy grain.

Do I really need to rinse quinoa?

Most recipes ask you to rinse the quinoa with water before cooking. The reason is, quinoa has a natural coating called saponin that acts as a natural insecticide (which prevents birds and other animals from eating quinoa while it’s growing), and that coating can have a bitter flavor for some people.

While you technically don’t have to rinse quinoa before consuming (it certainly won’t hurt you), most people will agree that quinoa tastes better after rinsing.

The good news is, most packaged quinoa is already “pre-rinsed“. So check the packaging first to avoid this extra step.

A bowl of kale quinoa with pine nuts in a white bowl and chopped kale on the side.

How to make this Kale Quinoa Side Dish:

To make this kale quinoa recipe- in a medium saucepan, first melt the vegan butter (or olive oil) over medium heat. Or if you prefer an oil-free option, you can also use vegetable stock/broth in the place of butter. 

Next, I recommend to toast the quinoa before cooking it. Reason being, it brings out the nuttiness of the quinoa and adds a really nice depth of flavor.

To do this, add the dry quinoa to a small/medium skillet over medium heat, and heat for 3-4 minutes until slightly toasted, stirring constantly (STEP 1). You’ll know it’s ready when it’s a little brown and smells nutty.

Next, add the vegetable broth and all spices (STEP 2). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat slightly, cover and simmer 14-15 minutes, or until water is absorbed (STEP 3). Uncover and remove from heat.

A series of 3 shots of quinoa being browned in a Dutch oven pot.
Step 1: Add the quinoa to the melted butter and heat until toasted.
Step 2: Add the vegetable broth and all spices. Bring to a simmer; cover.
Step 3: Cook roughly 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, over medium heat in a small or medium dry skillet, add the raw pine nuts (STEP 4). Stir constantly for about 2-3 minutes until just starting to brown, being careful not to burn (STEP 5). Remove from pan immediately to cool.

A series of 2 photos of raw pine nuts being browned, before and after.
Step 4: Add raw pine nuts to dry skillet over medium heat.
Step 5: Stir constantly for 3-4 minutes until toasted. Remove from pan immediately.

To the pot of cooked quinoa, add the chopped kale, lemon juice and toasted pine nuts (STEP 6). Stir immediately until combined (STEP 7). Note: the hot quinoa will wilt the kale.

2 photos showing kale and pine nuts added to a pot and stirred to combine.
Step 6: Add the kale, lemon juice and toasted pine nuts to the hot quinoa.
Step 7: Stir until combined.

Additions/Substitutions:

This Kale Quinoa side dish is really easy to experiment with or add to.

  • Get creative. Try adding sautéed mushrooms or roasted red peppers, veggie sausage, or chopped sun dried tomatoes.
  • Add some baked tofu or roasted chickpeas, or enjoy it as a side dish to your favorite burger.
  • Experiment with spices or herbs! Add chopped parsley, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, nutritional yeast, or even Za’atar Seasoning blend for a Middle Eastern take on this quinoa recipe.
  • My favorite addition to this meal is a 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of truffle salt. Yum.
  • Nut-Free Option: Omit the toasted pine nuts and sub with roasted sunflower seeds.
  • Note: The type of vegetable broth you use may affect the color and the taste of this dish slightly. If you don’t have vegetable stock/broth on hand, you can use water. Just note that in this case, additional spices may be necessary.
An overhead photo of 2 bowls of Kale Quinoa on a wood background.

Helpful Tools:

A close up of a bowl of kale quinoa.

Do you love quinoa? Try one of these quinoa-based recipes!

If you try this Simple Kale Quinoa, please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your photo with #veggie__chick on Instagram. I just love to see my recipes being made in YOUR kitchen!

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Simple Kale Quinoa (Vegan, Gluten Free)

A bowl of quinoa with kale and pine nuts in a white bowl.

This Simple Kale Quinoa can be made in just 25 minutes with only 10 ingredients. It’s packed with plant-based protein and also super versatile. Add extra veggies, chickpeas or tofu for a fuller meal.

  • Author: Christin McKamey
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Whole Grains
Scale

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan or Dutch oven, melt butter (or olive oil) over medium heat.
  2. Add quinoa and heat for 3-4 minutes until slightly toasted*, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add vegetable stock/broth, water, minced onion, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bring to a boil, reduce heat slightly, cover and simmer for 14-15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Uncover and remove from heat. 
  4. Meanwhile (while waiting for quinoa to cook), in a small or medium dry skillet over medium heat, add the raw pine nuts. Stir constantly for about 2-3 minutes until slightly browned, being careful not to burn. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s a little brown and smells nutty. Remove from pan immediately to cool. 
  5. To the pot of cooked quinoa, add the chopped kale (the hot quinoa will wilt the kale), lemon juice and pine nuts. Stir until combined. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, or additional spices (see suggestions below).
  6. This recipe makes 4 (1-cup) servings. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Notes

*Toasting quinoa before cooking brings out a “nuttiness” of the quinoa adds a nice depth of flavor.

Additions/Substitutions:

  • Get creative. Try adding sautéed mushrooms or roasted red peppers, veggie sausage, or chopped sun dried tomatoes.
  • Add some baked tofu or roasted chickpeas, or enjoy it as a side dish to your favorite burger.
  • Experiment with spices or herbs! Add chopped parsley, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, nutritional yeast, or even Za’atar Seasoning blend for a Middle Eastern take on this quinoa recipe.
  • My favorite addition to this meal is a 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of truffle salt. Yum.
  • Nut-Free Option: Omit the toasted pine nuts and sub with roasted sunflower seeds.
  • Note: The type of vegetable stock/broth you use may affect the color and the taste of this dish slightly. If you don’t have vegetable stock/broth on hand, you can use water. Just note that additional spices may be necessary.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 231
  • Sugar: 1.3
  • Sodium: 390.7
  • Fat: 4.9
  • Carbohydrates: 38.7
  • Protein: 8.3

Keywords: kale quinoa, easy kale quinoa, simple quinoa recipe

Update Notes: This post was originally published in July 2016, but was republished with tips and FAQs in November of 2019.

Hi, I'm Christin- thanks for stopping by my happy place! Here you will find healthy, original meat-free recipes. No matter where you are in your health journey, I hope I can help and inspire you. Read more...

6 Comments

  • Very delicious, I just want to make it again, I added broccoli, red cappo, pepitos and pine nuts. Next time I am going to also add roast pumpkin cubes and avocado. Yum I want it now ??

    Reply
    • Yum!!! Sounds delish. =)

      Reply
  • I made little balls out of it and baked them for 10 min. And made a sauce to dip them on very good snack

    Reply
    • Oh wow, that sounds AMAZING Joyce. Thanks for the idea!! =)

      Reply
  • Made this recipe the other night, absolutely loved it!

    Reply
    • Thanks Kaye! 😉

      Reply

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