Meat Lite: Quinoa Pilaf with Sweet Potatoes, Kale, and Bacon

[Photograph: Joy Manning]

After a very meaty and indulgent Thanksgiving, I ended the weekend feeling the need for some healthier fare. I now have a week full of meatless and almost-meatless meals planned, and this easy pilaf kicked things off last night. Full of fiber and antioxidants, this is one-bowl meal you can feel virtuous about eating. The bacon contributes smoky flavor and a nice textural contrast, but you could leave it out if you wanted to make this a vegetarian dish. (In that case, skip the bacon step and instead sauté the onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.)

About the author: Joy Manning is the restaurant critic at Philadelphia Magazine. She blogs at Oyster Evangelist.

Meat Lite: Quinoa Pilaf with Sweet Potatoes, Kale, and Bacon

About This Recipe

Yield:serves 4


  • 2 to 4 slices of bacon, diced
  • 1/4 large onion, cut in half and sliced thin
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 medium sweet potato (about 10 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 small bunch kale (about 8 ounces), chopped coarsely
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 scallions, green parts only, sliced thin, for garnish


  1. 1

    Preheat the oven to 475°F.

  2. 2

    In a medium saucepan with a tight fitting lid, cook the bacon over medium heat until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Reserve the bacon bits.

  3. 3

    Drop the onions into the hot bacon fat and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add the quinoa and toss until coated with the fat and the grains are slightly toasted, about 2 minutes more. Add the water and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, bring to a boil, stir once, cover, reduce to low and let cook undisturbed until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

  4. 4

    While the quinoa is cooking, toss the sweet potatoes and kale with the olive oil and salt and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until the potatoes and kale begin to brown in places and the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

  5. 5

    When the quinoa is cooked, stir in the potatoes, kale, and bacon. Top with fresh scallion slices and reserved bacon bits.


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