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

Meat Lite

Mostly vegetarian dishes with just a touch of meaty accent.

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

[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.)

  • 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.