A quinoa side dish recipe is an opportunity to add a bit of extra protein on the plate. This one makes enough for a serving for two people but can easily be doubled for more servings too.
A Tip on Toasted Pine Nuts
Nuts always add a bit of crunch but that extra step of toasting nuts really goes elevates them. When you pick up pine nuts, they will most likely be raw. Toasting them happens quicker than you might expect so, stay in the moment. Also, toasted pine nuts can go rancid quickly, since they release more of their oils when toasted. Use them right away and store pine nuts in the freezer.
Cooking Cue for This Quinoa Side Dish Recipe
Be sure to rinse the quinoa to remove its bitter coating (known as saponin). Don’t dry the greens completely after washing; a little extra water clinging to the leaves will help them wilt when cooking.
Golden Dried Figs: A Touch of Sweetness
For the recipe, we opted to use Sun-Maid and Orchard Choice California Golden Dried Figs for a more delicate sweetness. Golden figs pair especially well with the nuttiness of the toasted pine nuts too. You can always swap in our mission dried figs instead for a more intense sweetness. Both golden figs and mission figs bring a pop of seeds and chewy skin for texture.
Why This Recipe Works
We combined two protein-packed vegetarian staples—quinoa and chickpeas—in one pot for this unique pilaf-style dish. Hearty kale helped tie the dish together, and figs and carrot imparted sweet, earthy notes. To play up the Moroccan flavors, we spiced the dish with fragrant coriander and hot red pepper flakes and stirred in toasted pine nuts, tangy feta, and a squeeze of lemon juice. With as much protein as it has flavor, the hearty combination of quinoa, chickpeas, and kale makes a great vegetarian dish for two.
Toasted Pine Nuts & Fig Quinoa Side Dish Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion , chopped fine
- 1 carrot , peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup quinoa , rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup canned chickpeas , rinsed
- 5 tablespoons Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Golden Figs , stemmed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- Salt and pepper
- 6 ounces kale , stemmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts , toasted
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest plus 1 teaspoon juice
- 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and carrot and cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, coriander, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in quinoa and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted and aromatic, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in broth, chickpeas, figs, and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Place kale on top and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is transparent and tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Off heat, gently stir in remaining 1 tablespoon oil, pine nuts, and lemon zest and juice. Sprinkle with feta and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.