Easy Quinoa and Kale Stir Fry

How is it already mid-April? I haven’t written a thing in weeks! Every day is busy around here but spring seems extra, extra busy this year. Spring fever has fully engulfed our house – sports practices, playdates, weddings, work – stop by and, if anyone is home, I guarantee you that they will not be inside. No complaints. The hot and humid weather is right around the corner, so we will enjoy these pretty, mosquito-free days while we can.

In addition to needing some extra fresh air, I am pretty sure my kids think my dinner menus need a little refreshing. I might have overdone it a bit on the winter rice consumption. My older child hopped in the car the other day after school and said, “Please don’t tell me that we are having rice for dinner…” Oops! We eat a lot of rice around here – all different kinds of rice – I thought that was enough variety for the 2nd graders. Apparently not. On an up note, he did offer an excellent alternative – quinoa!

When your 8 year old suggests quinoa for dinner, I suggest you run with it. Quinoa is as easy to prepare as rice and, if you are lucky, you can probably find a few varieties to test out. Quinoa is known as the “ancient grain of the Incas” and it is naturally gluten-free. You can substitute it in practically any recipe calling for rice. I truly forgot how easy and tasty quinoa is.

When the boy-child called me out for lazy menu making, I instantly switched gears and decided to make an easy stir fry using quinoa instead of the brown basmati rice waiting for me on the counter… I like to prepare quinoa the same way I prepare rice – dice onions and garlic, toss in a bit of butter and olive oil over medium heat, add the quinoa grains, cook for about 30 seconds or so, and then add water or broth. A rough ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa usually works well. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer over low heat, covered for about 20 minutes. (Some darker varieties of quinoa take more time! Test it first.) Just like leftover rice, leftover quinoa is perfect for a stir-fry. If you don’t have any leftover quinoa lying around, making it fresh is not a problem. (Click here for a specific quinoa how-to!)

This child will never say I make too much rice…

My friend forgot to pick up her beautiful kale from our farmers market last week. I couldn’t let it go to waste so I decided to make a kale and quinoa stir fry. We have been lucky to have great local kale for the past couple of months – local greens are what gets us through the winter! Kale does not love hot weather so we shall see how much longer we can keep getting it.

Just like any stir fry, whatever veggies you have on hand will work great. I had a handful of baby carrots, onion, garlic, eggs, and leftover edamame. I sliced the baby carrots, chopped the onions and garlic, and I was on my way. Scramble the eggs ahead of time to save you time and a messy pan.

Local scallions … optional for garnish

Ingredients: 

2 to 3 cups prepared quinoa (1 cup uncooked = 3 cups prepared)
2 eggs, scrambled
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Handful baby carrots, sliced
Scallions, chopped (for garnishing)
Sesame oil (if you have it!)  
Tahari Sauce (or soy sauce – watch out for gluten-free label)

Directions: 

1. Scramble two eggs in a pan. Set aside.

2. Using the same pan, add some sesame oil, heat to low. Add onion, carrots, and garlic. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add chopped kale until the kale is wilted but still very green. Add edamame if you have any on hand.

3. Add tahari sauce. Cook for about 1 minute.

4. Combine kale, onions, and carrots with cooked quinoa and scrambled eggs.  Top with diced scallions. Enjoy!

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