Sausage Brunch Bake

Food contests can be a lot of fun. And depending on which one your enter, it can be a very profitable venture should your recipe be singled out as a winner by judges.

Just ask Christina Verrelli of Devon, Pa., whose pumpkin-ravioli dessert recipe won her the $1 million grand prize of the 45th annual Pillsbury Bake-Off. (She also won the Sweet Treats category as well. For a look at all the winners, go to www.pillsbury.com)

After looking over the other winning recipes, I decided to take a closer look at the top one in the Breakfast and Brunch category. Submitted by Maria Vasseur of Valencia, Calif., the Sausage-Pomodoro Brunch Bake looks like one that I might like to try. The hearty egg bake recipe also contains tomatoes and two cheeses.

Sausage-Pomodoro Brunch Bake
1 12-ounce package bulk reduced-fat pork breakfast sausage
1/3 cup refrigerated basil pesto
1 can Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 14.5-ounce can Muir Glen organic diced tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (1½ ounce)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
6 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons shredded fresh basil leaves
Heat oven to 375degrees. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook sausage 6 to 8 minutes over medium heat or until no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in pesto. Set aside to cool. 2 Unroll crescent dough into 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish. Press dough in bottom and ½ inch up sides. Press perforations to seal. Spoon sausage into dough-lined dish. Sprinkle tomatoes and feta cheese over sausage. Top with mozzarella cheese. 3 In medium bowl, beat eggs and milk with wire whisk until well-blended. Pour egg mixture evenly over ingredients in dish. 4 Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until dough is golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh basil.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 390 calories, 27 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 205 milligrams cholesterol, 890 milligrams sodium, 16 grams carbohydrates, no dietary fiber, 5 grams sugars, 20 grams protein.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream
4 tablespoons butter, melted and divided
2 3-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
½ cup canned pumpkin (not the pie filling)
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup sugar
5 tablespoons flour, divided
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
2 cans refrigerated crescent roll dough (seamless sheets)
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp. salt
5 tablespoons caramel syrup, divided
4 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 2 large cookie sheets with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and pumpkin with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until smooth. Add egg yolk, vanilla, sugar, 3 tablespoons flour and pumpkin pie spice; beat on low speed until blended. Reserve 4 teaspoons of the pecans; set aside. Stir remaining pecans into pumpkin mixture.
Lightly sprinkle work surface with 1 tablespoon flour. Unroll 1 can of dough on floured surface with short side facing you. Press dough into 14-by-12-inch rectangle. With paring knife, lightly score the dough in half horizontally. Lightly score bottom half of dough into 12 squares (3-by-2¼-inches each).
Spoon heaping tablespoon of pumpkin filling onto center of each square. Gently lift and position unscored half of dough over filling. Starting at the top folded edge, press handle of wooden spoon firmly between mounds and along edges of pumpkin filling to seal.
Using toothpick, poke small hole in top of each ravioli. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut between each ravioli; place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon flour, dough sheet and filling. Brush ravioli with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Bake 9 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.
Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat cream and salt with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Beat in 2 tablespoons caramel syrup until stiff peaks form. Transfer to serving bowl; cover and refrigerate.
Remove ravioli from oven. Sprinkle ravioli with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar; turn. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar.
To serve, place 2 ravioli on each of 12 dessert plates. Drizzle each serving with scant teaspoon of the caramel syrup; sprinkle with reserved chopped pecans. With spoon, swirl remaining 1 tablespoon caramel syrup into bowl of whipped cream. Serve warm ravioli with whipped cream.
Yield: Serves 12.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 380 calories, 25 grams fat (13 grams saturated), 440 milligrams sodium, 35 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 70 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram dietary fiber.

Classic Comfort: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

A bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich is one of the classic pairings of all time. It rates right up near the top of the comfort-food scale with meatloaf, mac ‘n’ cheese, mashed potatoes and ice cream.

It’s been a while since I’ve had some homemade tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. As a kid, we could always count on a lunch featuring the pair at least once every week or so.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. First, a friend, Pete Hougum, shared a recipe for tortellini, spinach and tomato soup that he said was simply delicious. I’d been meaning to make it but mislaid the recipe until last night.

Then, an email came my way from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board asking me to share with readers information about an upcoming contest for the top homemade grilled cheese sandwich in the country. Of course, contestants were asked that the recipe include some Wisconsin cheese.

The winner of the contest, which ends May 8, will receive an all-expense-paid trip for two to New York City and a host of other tasty prizes. Fifteen other winners will take home prizes including gift cards and Wisconsin Cheese baskets. (To enter and for more contest information, visit GrilledCheeseAcademy.com.)

Here’s a sample of a grilled cheese sandwich recipe from the WMMB, along with the tomato soup recipe I’m hoping to try.

The Dagwood
9 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, divided
1 red onion, sliced 1/8  thick
Salt and pepper
8 slices classic white bread
8 slices Wisconsin American cheese
4 slices Wisconsin Sliced Swiss
8 ounces smoked ham, sliced
2 large heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick (8 slices)
Heat saute pan over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter; melt and add onion slices. Add a pinch of salt and pepper; cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove to plate; reserve. Butter one side of each bread slice. Heat saute pan over medium heat. Add 4 bread slices, butter-side down. Layer on each slice of bread: 1 slice American cheese, 1 slice Swiss cheese, 2 ounces ham, about 1 tablespoon sauteed onions, 2 slices tomato and an additional slice of American cheese. Top sandwiches with remaining 4 slices bread, butter-side up. Saute sandwiches for 3 minutes: turn carefully, and grill until golden brown and the cheeses are melted.
Yield: Serves 4.

Tortellini, Spinach and Tomato Soup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 to 8 cloves garlic
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
6 ounces fresh or frozen tortellini
14-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
10 ounces spinach, washed, stemmed, coarsely chopped
8 to 10 basil leaves
Parmesan cheese, grated
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add tortellini and cook halfway, about 5 minutes for frozen pasta, less if using fresh. Add tomatoes and juice, reduce heat to simmer and cook just until pasta is tender. Stir in spinach and basil and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan.

Chicken with Rice and Peas

It’s always fun to try a new recipe, no matter if it’s quick and easy or labor-intensive. Perhaps the most interesting part of the experience is wondering if the dish will taste good. My biggest fear is that my family or guests won’t like it.

There are some recipes, though, that take away all the guesswork. Those are the ones that can’t possibly turn out badly. They contain ingredients that just about everyone likes. When I see a recipe like this, it’s immediately put on the proverbial front burner. My favorites are those one-skillet meals.

The following recipe fits all those prerequisites. It’s quick, tasty and is prepared in one pan.

I tweaked the recipe a bit because of the ingredients we had on hand. Instead of chicken, I used pheasant and Hungarian partridge breasts, as well as 2 cups of leftover brown/wild rice (for the long-grain variety). With no white wine or vermouth and chicken broth, I substituted red wine and wild game broth. And yellow onions had to suffice.

The results were spectacular. I can’t imagine the dish being any tastier with the called-for ingredients.

Chicken with Rice and Peas
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each)
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
Pinch red pepper flakes
1½ cups long-grain rice
½ cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
4½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas
5 scallions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in flour to coat and shake off any excess. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown the chicken well on one side, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Turn off the heat, add the butter to the skillet, and swirl to melt. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt and return to medium-high heat until softened, 2 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the rice thoroughly and let toast for about 30 seconds.
Stir in the wine (or vermouth) and let the rice absorb it completely, about 1 minute. Stir in the broth, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle the chicken into the rice, browned side facing up, including any accumulated juices. Cover and cook over medium heat until the thickest part of the chicken registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a clean plate. Gently brush off and discard any rice clinging to the chicken, then tent the chicken with foil and set aside. Return the skillet of rice to medium-low heat, cover, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, 8 to 12 minutes longer.
Turn off the heat, sprinkle the peas over the rice, cover, and let warm through, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions and lemon juice to the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the chicken and lemon wedges.

Cheesy Broccoli-Potato Mash

Coming up with dishes that are healthy and nutritious and at the same time taste good has been the bane of conscientious cooks for many years.

It‘s usually not to hard to find recipes that are either one or the other, but digging up ones that are both can be a daunting task.

For me, it’s cause for a minor celebration when I come across a recipe that’s both. And I’m hoping that the following dish, which combines broccoli, potatoes and cheese, fits the bill.

One serving isn’t fat-laden, has a couple of grams of dietary fiber, 17 grams of carbohydrates and only a small amount of cholesterol and sodium. And it’s only 135 calories.

Cheesy Broccoli-Potato Mash
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into wedges
¾ pound broccoli florets (about 4 cups)
¾ cup shredded cheese (any combination of Cheddar, fontina or Parmesan)
½ cup nonfat milk
½ teaspoon salt
Ground pepper to taste
Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a large pot. Place potatoes in a steamer basket and steam for 10 minutes. Place broccoli on top, cover and steam until the potatoes and broccoli are tender, 6 to 8 minutes more. Transfer the broccoli to a large bowl and coarsely mash with a potato masher. Add the potatoes, cheese, milk, salt and pepper and continue mashing to desired consistency. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per servings: 135 calories, 17 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 16 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams fat (3grams saturated), 329 milligrams sodium, 7 grams protein.

Rhubarb-Strawberry Crisp

Springtime has come early to the Midwest. The grass is starting to get green, trees are beginning to bud out, and tulips and irises have begun to show themselves.

Before long, stalks of pink-purple rhubarb will start to poke out of the ground. And when that happens, back-yard gardeners will turn into bakers, turning out pies, jams and crisps.

I’ll likely be joining in on the fun, since making desserts slowly is becoming one of my favorite pastimes.

Just recently, I made a rhubarb crisp that was a hit with my visiting granddaughter, Naomi, and her boyfriend, Brandon. (See recipe at http://chefjeff.areavoices.com/2011/05/05/rhubarb-crunch/.) And today, I made a peach-raspberry crumble. (See recipe at www.grandforksherald.com/event/tag/group/Life/tag/food/.)

Here’s another recipe that I hope to try.

Rhubarb-Strawberry Crisp
4 cups fresh trimmed rhubarb, cut into ½-inch chunks
2 cups sliced strawberries
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon minced orange peel or lemon peel
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
TOPPING:
1 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
½ cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter, cut into 6 pieces
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, flour, melted butter, orange peel or lemon peel, and cinnamon. Toss to combine, and place in a 9-inch square pan. Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes.
For topping, combine brown sugar, flour and butter in food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to combine until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle over rhubarb mixture.
Bake until browned and bubbly, about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: Serves 6.

Sweet Potato Hummus

It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like some sort of chips and dip. When it comes to this old favorite, the number of combinations is nearly endless.

Perhaps my most-liked pairing is tortilla chips and salsa. I have an affinity for this because we always have a good supply of the homemade sauce, ranging from mild to hot-hot.

But coming in a close second is hummus and pita chips. My interest in this was piqued a half-dozen years ago or so.

Hummus, in case you don’t know, is an exotic blend of pureed chickpeas, lemon, sesame tahini, oil and spices, with added flavors such as roasted garlic, roasted red peppers, scallion and dill.

I’m not the only one who likes hummus. These days, it’s readily available commercially in specialty stores and supermarkets. The most devoted advocates of hummus make their own.

Back in 2006, we had a summer reporting  intern from Hampton (Va.) University at the Herald who was one of those people who loved hummus. Eba Hamid was a native of the Sudan who grew up in Mississippi. Eba told me then that she grew up on hummus, which is popular in her homeland. She added that her father made a pretty mean version, using fresh chickpeas (some call them garbanzo beans).

Today, I thought about Eba, now a night producer at the New York Times, after Therese emailed me a hummus recipe that featured sweet potatoes. Therese said she thought I’d like to see it. I took this as a hint to make it. I did.. And I’m sure glad. It tastes wonderful.

I plan on using it with crackers or chips, but it could double as a spread for crusty bread, a dip for veggies such as carrots and celery or a topping for sandwiches, broiled fish or chicken or baked potatoes.

For the health-conscious, hummus is a bargain. It contains no saturated fat, no cholesterol or sugars and is high in protein and fiber.

Sweet Potato Hummus
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 15-ounce chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
¼ cup tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 garlic clove, chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Whole-wheat pita and crudites such as red pepper and broccoli
Set a steamer basket in a large pot. Fill with enough water to come just below basket; bring to a boil. Add potatoes; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a food processor.
Combine chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, oil, cumin, and garlic in the food processor. Puree, about 1 minute; thin with water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper and let cool; refrigerate, in an airtight container, up to 1 week. Serve with pita and crudites.
Yield About 4 cups.

Spicy Sweet Glazed Salmon

Any cook who is worth his or her salt appreciates the opportunity to eat a meal prepared by someone else. And if the food is tasty, it’s an even bigger bonus.

Therese and I had to pleasure of dining on delicious dinner last night with our granddaughter, Naomi, and her boyfriend, Brandon, who are visiting from Cincinnati. Naomi said she wanted to fix us a salmon dinner, and what she came up with exceeded my expectations.

The salmon recipe she used, courtesy of allrecipes.com, was a sweet and spicy creation that went well with the rice medley (wild and brown), steamed broccoli and salad she also served. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the meal, since Naomi’s mother, Jessica, also is a fine cook.

The only difference in Naomi’s preparation of the following recipe is that she cooked the salmon on a Foreman grill instead of broiling it, and she left out the cilantro in the marinade.

Spicy Sweet Glazed Salmon
1½ pounds fresh salmon fillet with skin removed
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Place salmon in a shallow, flat dish, and set aside. Combine the vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, water, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, cilantro and brown sugar in a blender. Blend until brown sugar dissolves. Pour the marinade over the salmon to cover evenly. Cover the dish, and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Line a broiling pan with foil. Remove salmon from marinade, and place on prepared broiling pan; season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer remaining marinade to a saucepan.
Turn on broiler to low.
Broil salmon about 6 inches from the heat for 5 minutes; brush with remaining marinade. Broil an additional 5 to 10 minutes, brushing 2 or 3 more times with additional marinade. Salmon is done when fish is no longer bright red and can be flaked with a fork.
Meanwhile, cook the remaining marinade over low heat until it thickens and reduces by one-third, 5 to 10 minutes. Use cooked marinade as a dipping sauce or drizzle over salmon just before serving.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 330 calories, 18.8 grams fat, 77 milligrams cholesterol: 729 milligrams sodium, 14.5 grams carbohydrates, 0.2 grams dietary fiber, 25.1 grams protein.

One-Pot Chicken and Potatoes

Chicken has to be one of the most versatile foods around. It can be baked or fried. It’s great in stir-fries. And then there are hot buffalo wings, stuffed breasts, pot pies and chicken tacos, burritos and enchiladas. Don’t forget about chicken soup. As you can see, the possibilities are nearly endless.

it comes to pairing chicken with other foods, the list is almost as long. One of my favorite foods to pair with chicken is potatoes, be they baked, mashed or boiled.

Here’s a recipe combining the two in a one-pot meal. Also included are carrots, leeks, onions and peas. The vegetables are lightly coated in a sauce made with stout and mustard.

Stout-Soused Chicken with Potato and Leeks
1 tablespoon canola oil
¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced (about 2 cups)
¾ pound red or yellow potatoes, with skin, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup sliced carrots
¾ cup stout
2 cups water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons coarse-ground mustard
1 cup frozen peas
2 scallions, sliced
Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken 2 minutes, turn over and brown 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Add leeks, potatoes, carrots, stout, water and cider vinegar to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium. Cover with a lid and simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are cooked. Mix the honey and mustard together, add to the skillet and stir to blend well. Return chicken to the skillet, and add the peas. Cover and simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. A meat thermometer should read 165 degrees. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide between 2 dinner plates and sprinkle the scallions on top.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 642 calories, 21 percent of calories from fat, 14.8 grams fat (2.4 grams saturated, 6.7 grams monounsaturated), 138 milligrams cholesterol, 44.1 grams protein, 77.6 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams fiber, 464 milligrams sodium.

Wild Game Wrapped in Bacon on the Grill

Grilling usually isn’t an activity most people associate with winter. But with temperatures in the 60s and hardly a lick of snow to be found, this isn’t your typical Midwest winter day. In fact, if you look at the calendar, you’ll discover that technically spring is still a few days away.

And I bet if you were to take a drive around your town, you probably would find quite a few people dusting off their barbecues for some weekend grilling. That’s what I’ll be doing Sunday, when we’re expecting some guests from Cincinnati. (My granddaughter, Naomi, and her boyfriend, Brandon, are on their way to Grand Forks via train.)

I’m planning to grill wild game for them, including pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse and duck breasts as well as some elk tenderloin. Also on the menu will be vegetables and a tasty rhubarb dessert.

I’ll be marinating the meat overnight in a mixture of teriyaki, orange juice and honey. When it comes time to throw the meat on the grill, I’m going to stuff the breasts and fillets with slices of garlic, jalapeno and onion before wrapping them in bacon.

I can’t think of a better way to say good-bye to winter.

Jeff’s  Meat Marinade
1 cup of teriyaki sauce
½ cup of orange juice
½ cup of honey
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
3 or 4 sprigs of rosemary (optional)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Mix ingredients in rectangular contain like a cake pan. Place meat in container  and then put in meat; let it sit in fridge for at least a day.
Note: Any kind of meat works well, from wild game such as venison, upland birds or waterfowl as well as domestic cuts (beef, pork, buffalo) and chicken. This recipe can be doubled easily.

One-Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf

Some people find it hard to get excited about vegetarian meals. For many of them, it could have something to do with growing up in a meat-and-potatoes culture.

In the family of my youth, meat usually was the centerpiece of most meals. That’s not to say we didn’t eat a lot of vegetables because we did. But as I’ve grow older, the focus has been less on meat and more on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

In fact, some of my favorite dishes contain no meat, just like the following one-pot meal. It contains kale, a leafy green, and quinoa, an ancient supergrain. Both are highly nutritious and have been gaining in popularity recently.

Quinoa has been called the “mother grain of the Incas,” who began cultivating it at least 3,000 years ago. Technically, it’s a seed that takes on a grain-like consistency when cooked. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium, iron, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, copper and zinc. It’s also gluten-free. And to top it off, quinoa contains eight essential amino acids.
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Kale, on the other hand, also is a nutritional powerhouse, being packed with vitamin A, C, K, lutein (for healthy eyes) and beta-carotene. Other health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration of two kinds of antioxidants, carotenoids and flavonoids, which are associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits.

I would say that this dish, adapted from “The Food 52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks” by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs (Morrow, $35), is an excellent way to get on track to healthy eating during National Nutrition Month.

One-Pot Kale and Quina Pilaf
1 cup quinoa, rinsed under running water
1 bunch kale, washed and chopped into 1-inch lengths
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 scallions, minced
1 tablespoon toasted walnut oil (or olive oil)
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
¼ cup crumbled soft goat cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring 2 cups salted water to a boil over high heat in a large pot with a cover. Add the quinoa, cover and lower the heat to just maintain a simmer. Cook 10 minutes. Top the quinoa with the kale and re-cover. Simmer another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the quinoa and kale to steam 5 minutes.
While the quinoa is cooking, combine the lemon zest, half the lemon juice, the scallions, oil, pine nuts and goat cheese in a large serving bowl.
Check the quinoa and kale — the water should be absorbed, the quinoa tender but firm and the kale tender and bright green. If the quinoa still has a hard white center, you can steam it a bit longer, adding more water if needed.
When quinoa and kale are done, fluff the pilaf transfer it to the serving bowl. As the hot quinoa hits the scallions and lemon, it should smell lovely. Toss to combine, seasoning with salt and pepper and the remaining lemon juice if needed.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 300 calories, 39 percent of calories from fat, 13.7 grams fat (3 grams saturated, 3.4 grams monounsaturated), 6.5 milligrams cholesterol, 11.6 grams protein, 36.7 grams carbohydrates, 5.6 grams fiber, 78 milligrams sodium.