We’re beach babies who don’t like the cold. (Then why do we live in the Northeast? That’s a good question…) We don’t want the leaves to turn colors and we’d be just as happy if our snow suits stay packed away forever.

But fall comfort food makes our little hearts go pitter patter. There are major (culinary) bonus points to be doled out if we brainstorm a hot & healthy, protein and iron-rich dish that signals the beginning of pumpkins and costumes, apple cider and roasted turkeys.

For our favorite ladies over at Redbook, Elle an Good Housekeeping, we created this warm quinoa salad. We even had the pleasure of serving it to them at Hearst’s uber-chic ‘cafeteria,’ Cafe 57. Guess what?? They polished us off! Not a grain of crispy, red quinoa was left.

Try this for your next meatless Monday or for the healthiest (and hippest) side dish on your Thanksgiving buffet.

Red Quinoa w Roasted Pumpkin, Pecans & Kale Chips
Recipe type: Side or Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
We cooked for all of our favorite editors and mogulettes at Hearst's, 'Cafe 57,' with just one mandate-- hot & healthy. This is our warm & hearty early fall take on the perfect side dish. We served it with roasted snapper but chicken or roast turkey would be just as delicious.
  • 1½ cups red quinoa
  • 4 cups salted water
  • 10 oz chopped kale (8 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups diced pumpkin or butternut squash
  • ½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 garlic clove smashed
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  1. Rinse the quinoa well, then combine in a sauce pot with the salted water and place over a medium flame. Cook until very tender, about 20-25 minutes. Strain the cooked quinoa and spread into a thin layer on a baking sheet to steam dry.
  2. Toss the kale with 3 tablespoons olive oil and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Spread the kale into a single layer on a baking sheet- use two if necessary- and bake at 300˚F until crisp. Set aside to cool.
  3. Turn the oven to 400˚F. Toss the pumpkin with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast the pumpkin in the oven until lightly browned and tender, about 12-15 minutes.
  4. Place a large saute pan over high heat. Pour in enough olive oil to completely cover the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic clove and pepper flakes to oil. When the garlic begins to brown, add all of the quinoa and leave to cook 5 minutes without stirring. This will allow the bottom layer of quinoa to crisp. Scatter the pumpkin and pecans over the quinoa and toss or stir to mix well. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and fold in the baked kale, lemon juice and zest. Serve warm.