From my balcony I have a direct view of this big sprawling roof complex. It’s like its own little village- small shanties on the roof, a big dilapidated swing set, things growing all tangled and wild, what looks like a makeshift kitchen. Lots of people come in and out onto this roof, emerging from different entrances. In a corner, they raise doves. The doves swarm up, fly a little distance across the street, come back. Most of the day they lounge on the slanting red tiles of a neighboring roof. I wonder about control. Letting go, leaning into trust. Relaxing into the present. The air raid sirens have stopped, and their threat has lifted from the city. Yet, danger haunts the city like a lover, its scent lingering.
I bookmarked this recipe for a Quinoa and Kale Crustless Quiche about a year ago. I do love classic quiches, with their buttery, rolled out crusts, their quivering depths of cream, but this stood out as an easy and healthy alternative- I mean, it’s quinoa and kale after all- talk about power foods. The recipe lingered in the back of my mind, things involving chocolate tend to get me into the kitchen more quickly.
Last week, at my parents’ house, I was scoping out the kitchen for lunch, and there was a bright bunch of kale on the counter, which reminded me of this recipe. It was supposed to be just my older brother and I, and since he appreciates healthier food, I figured it was a good opportunity to give this a try.
The recipe has you begin by cooking the quinoa. Then you caramelize the onions, cooking them until they go translucent, then brown, their soft, sweet odor lifting up into the kitchen. You slide the onions onto a plate, and in goes the kale for a minute or two, until it turns bright green and abandons its toughness with a sigh.
Next, you combine the quinoa, onions and kale in a large mixing bowl, along with some minced garlic, eggs and an ample amount of cheese. The recipe called for cream cheese and cheddar, but I had a soft goat cheese and some Emmental, so that’s what I used. Also, on the topic of recipe adjustments: half of my kale turned out to be unusable- so I substituted some leeks (thinly sliced, sauteed in a bit of olive oil); I used a red onion instead of the vidalia called for- in short, this recipe is pretty adaptable. I’m sure broccoli, collard greens or spinach would all make lovely substitutes for the kale. Back to that mixing bowl. You’re now ready to pour the mixture into your baking pan, and slip it into the oven until golden. The best thing? It’s even better at room temperature, so this already low-maintenance affair just scored some extra bonus points.
My parents ended up joining us for lunch, as did my little brother. Slice after slice was cut. My little brother won’t touch quinoa, and he had a second slice; as did my father who doesn’t usually go for “health food”. Turns out, its name is a little misleading- you read quinoa and kale, and if you’re like me- you think: great! health food! um, right after I make this cake. But this? This is lovely regardless of its virtue- the quinoa gives it heft, and pops and crunches on the tongue. The lack of cream makes this more fuel than coma-inducing. And the caramelized onions, the kale and the cheeses- well, enough said.
Kale and Quinoa Crustless Quiche
This delicious, hearty and healthy quiche is easily adaptable: I substituted a soft goat cheese and some Emmental for the cream cheese and cheddar; swapped half of the kale with thinly sliced leeks (sauteed for a few minutes in olive oil); and used a red onion instead of the vidalia called for. I’m sure broccoli, collard greens or spinach would all make lovely substitutes for the kale.
Makes about 8 slices
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch kale, stems removed and cut into ribbons
1 vidalia onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup white cheddar cheese
3 oz cream cheese, cubed
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 and butter a 9″ pie dish. Rinse the quinoa. Combine the quinoa and water in a pan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until the quinoa is al dente, about twenty minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, caramelize the onions: Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan on medium heat. Add the onions, and cook until they are soft and browned. Remove the onions from the pan, and place them in a large mixing bowl.
Add the kale into the hot onion pan. On medium heat, cook until the kale is wilted and bright green, about two minutes. Allow the kale to cool, and squeeze out any extra liquid using a sieve or a clean dish towel.
Add the kale, quinoa, garlic, cream cheese and cheddar to the mixing bowl; stir to combine.
Whisk the eggs in a small bowl, and pour over the quinoa/kale mixture. Stir until the egg clings to the greens. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pie dish. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the top is golden and the pie has started to pull away from the edge of the baking dish. Serve warm or at room temperature.