The inspiration for the recipe was from The Kitchn Warm Citrusy Millet Salad with Fennel and Kalamata Olives. The first time I made it, the only changes I made were to use an orange rather than clementines and to use an onion instead of fennel, as I don't love fennel and it wasn't yet in season at the farmers' market. I also added some finely ground kale to the millet.
If those changes weren't enough, I modified it further to use quinoa, which my family prefers to millet. I substituted lemon juice and zest for orange, as I am more likely to have that around, and I doubled the olives. I also ditched the original dressing in favor of a hybrid based loosely on Deborah Madidon's baked olives in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I used half of the lemon garlic mixture to coat the still-warm olives and the other half as a basis for a lemon dressing for the quinoa and kale. I've made this twice now and am delighted to say that this will be a regular in our rotation.
I'm sure you could save some work and not bake the olives, but I think that baking them adds extra flavor that is worth the minimal effort.
1 c. uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained and toasted if desired
2 c. water
1/2 tsp salt
1 bunch kale, washed and stems removed, then finely ground or chopped
1 c. Kalamata olives, quartered
1/4 c. white or red wine or vermouth
1-2 bay leaves
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or put through a press
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stalk and chopped OR 1 tsp dried
Juice of half a lemon (about 2-3 TBSP)
1-2 TBSP olive oil to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
- Combine olives, wine, and bay leaves in a small dish and cover tightly with foil
- Bake for 40-45 minutes until olives are plump and soft
- While olives bake, combine lemon zest, garlic and thyme in a small bowl. Reserve half of this mixture
- As soon as olives come out of the oven, stir in half of the lemon-garlic paste. This should make the olives very fragrant. This part of the meal can be done well in advance, even a day or more
- Stir lemon juice, olive oil and pepper into the reserved lemon-garlic paste. Whisk to combine. Set aside whole quinoa cooks
- Bring water to boil in a 2 quart (or similar) saucepan
- When water boils, add salt and quinoa
- Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed and you see the little curls in the quinoa
- Remove from heat and stir in the kale. Mix well. Then stir in the lemon dressing and, finally, fold in the olives.
- Serve. Makes a great side for fish or is hearty enough to make a light lunch by itself, perhaps garnished with a few toasted pine nuts