Vegan Main Dishes/ Vegan Recipes/ Vegan Side Dishes/ Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Red Quinoa Pilaf with Kale and Corn

red quinoa pilaf with kale and corn

I love recipes that are impressive enough to serve guests, yet easy enough to make as an everyday dish. In Vegan Holiday Kitchen, this recipe is offered as a Thanksgiving side dish; it’s so hearty that the addition of a cup or two of  beans (yummy with black beans), can make it plentiful entree. Or, to dress it up even more, use it to stuff small squashes like golden acorn or delicata. Can’t find red quinoa? Regular is fine; it will taste just as good, even if it won’t be as photogenic. Photo by Susan Voisin.

red quinoa pilaf with kale and corn

Red Quinoa Pilaf with Kale and Corn

This quinoa and kale pilaf makes a great everyday dish, or, with the addition of a cup or two of beans can make it plentiful entree for the winter holiday table.
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Course: Quinoa
Cuisine: Vegan / Healthy / Holiday
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Veg Kitchen


  • 1 cup red quinoa rinsed in a fine sieve
  • 3 cups prepared vegetable broth or 3 cups water with 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 bunch kale about 8 ounces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 to 4 scallions white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cooked fresh corn kernels
  • 2 jarred roasted red peppers cut into strips
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice or more, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  • Combine the quinoa with 3 cups broth in a medium saucepan. Bring to a rapid simmer, then cover and simmer gently until the broth is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. If the quinoa isn’t quite done, add an additional 1/2 cup broth (or water) and continue to cook until absorbed.
  • Strip the kale leaves away from the stems. Discard the stems, or slice them very thinly. Cut the kale leaves into narrow strips. Rinse well and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the garlic and sauté over low heat until golden.
  • Add the kale, stir together, and cover; raise the heat to medium and cook until wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring frequently for 4 to 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a serving container and serve at once, or cover until needed.



Red quinoa pilaf with kale and corn

Nutrition Information:
Per Serving: 217.8 calories; 7.7g fat; 31.6g carbs; 4.1g fiber; 6.2g protein; 612.6mg sodium

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  • Reply
    Tricia Bayer-Burkholder
    September 13, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    FABULOUS! Made this tonight as a main dish using the black bean suggestion (YUM!) and I loved it and my 5 year old boys at it up! Thanks!

  • Reply
    September 13, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I found a black quinoa at Wegman’s in the bulk section. Is this the same as the red? I am buying regular quinoa at my local co-op in the bulk section and trying to keep some cooked in the refrigerator every week to use as part of a quick meal. I have also found steaming it in the oven works out really well. It frees up stove top space right now that it is canning season.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Wow, that says a lot for your 5-year-old boys, Tricia—adventurous eaters! And Mia, I do think black quinoa (and red) are pretty much the same as the regular. They taste similar, and sometimes I mix 2 or 3 of the colors just to make the dish look prettier. If you see this, do tell us more about oven-steaming quinoa. That sounds like such a great idea especially if other things are baking at the same time. What temperature? And for how long?

  • Reply
    September 20, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Nava, I found the recipe for oven cooking quina on the Beyond Salmon blog. The recipe is pretty simple. Preheat the oven to 375; rinse your quina and dump it into a 9×9 pan for 1 cup. (If you are doing 2 cups use a bigger pan.) She says to sprinkle a small amount of sea salt on top of the rinsed quina. Have ready 2 sheets of foil to cover the pan. Pour one cup of boiling water over the quina and immediately cover it with the double layer of foil. Bake for 20 minutes for white quina. She says 30 minutes for red quina. Take out of the oven and remove the double layer of foil & replace it with a layer of paper towels and 1 layer of the foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and it is ready. I have used this method the past few weeks and my quina turns out perfect every time. And since I have been doing a fair amount of canning, it means a burner free! The direct link to the recipe is

  • Reply
    September 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks for this additional techinique for enjoying quinoa, MIa.I look forward to trying it!

  • Reply
    » VeganMoFo: Children of the Corn Don’t Eat Off The Sidewalk!
    October 22, 2011 at 3:21 am

    […] I wanted something that still had corn but wasn’t all about corn, and I found this beautiful Red Quinoa Pilaf with Kale and Corn. Dessert: Cornmeal muffins with raspberries work perfectly to illustrate the blood on the corn. The […]

  • Reply
    November 30, 2011 at 1:41 am

    I made this as a side dish on Thanksgiving – even the in-laws who eat an unhealthy ‘standard’ diet loved it!

  • Reply
    November 30, 2011 at 9:47 am

    As I always say, Sarah, it seems more effective to convince people with yummy food rather than speeches! Glad you and yours enjoyed it.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2012 at 4:56 pm


    How do you think this would work as a make ahead dish? Does it store well? If I were to make it a day (or two) in advance, is this something that gets better with time or should I hold off on making it til it is needed?

    Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Courtney, what would happen is that the kale and parsley would lose their vivid color. What would be better is if you could make a couple of components ahead. A couple of days before, you can cook the quinoa and the corn. Then just before serving the dish will come together in a snap and retain its bright colors and toothsome texture.

  • Reply
    November 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I am trying to incorporate more meatless meals in our diet, and this sounds really good.
    We are not fans of cumin. Is there any other spice that could be substituted,
    or could I just leave the cumin out without affecting the taste too much? Thanks for any input.

  • Reply
    November 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Thank you so much, Nava! That is what I will do.

    Thanks again

  • Reply
    November 17, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Alice, you can simply substitute any seasoning you’d like. A mild chili powder would go with this; or a more herbal seasoning or blend. My recipes are eminently flexible; I encourage readers to tailor them to their liking!

  • Reply
    January 14, 2013 at 4:11 am

    This is sooo, one of my top 5 favorite dishes now. i added more kale but otherwise followed the recipe to the T! thanks for sharing, it is delish!

    • Reply
      January 14, 2013 at 8:47 am

      Thanks, Erika! So glad you enjoyed this. You’re right that there can never be too much kale …

  • Reply
    September 27, 2014 at 9:38 am

    What size jar for the roasted peppers?

  • Reply
    September 29, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Kris, this specifies 2 roasted peppers, rather than the size of the jar; but since it’s only 2, you can either use the smallest size jar available, or use 2 from any size jar and save the rest for another purpose.

  • Reply
    February 3, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    Thanks for this brilliant recipe! I’d heard that kale was really good for you so I bought a big bag but didn’t really know what to do with it… in the end, I searched the net for ‘kale recipes’ and stumbled across VegKitchen purely by chance. Really glad to have found you! I made this with ordinary quinoa last night and it was SO moreish that I’ve made it again tonight! I would never have dreamed of putting cumin and paprika with rosemary but it really works. An absolutely divine dish that left me feeling very satisfied. Thanks again.

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