Kale Pesto Quinoa + 10 Irish Beers for St. Patrick’s Dayfeatured

Green beer and Shamrock Shakes are just a few of the questionable ways to go green this St. Paddy’s Day. Here’s another option that is festively shamrock-hued yet delicious and easy enough to become a perennial staple: Kale Pesto Quinoa. That’s right my lucky leprechauns, I’ve taken two of the trendiest, most wildly popular superfoods right now and combined them into one mega-healthy dish. Is your body thanking you in advance for the motherload of vitamins, nutrients, and complete amino acids you’re about to give it? I thought so.

kale pesto

Go Green

A pesto made of basil and kale gives this quinoa salad its vibrant color. Handfuls of barely steamed broccoli florets bump up the green quotient (not to mention Vitamin C and cancer fighting properties).

Lacinato (Dino) Kale

Lacinato (Dino) Kale

I went with the more tender lacinato kale (aka dino kale) rather than the heartier curly kale you often find at the market, figuring it would be easier to blend into a smooth paste. I had my doubts about kale pesto, but it works. You get all the flavor of the basil, nuts, cheese, and EVOO, with the added nutritional boost of raw kale, without the lockjaw from chewing all of those cruciferous greens). The pesto is versatile too. Eat it as a dip, spread it on a sandwich, spoon it over fish or chicken.

Since you’re being so responsible and healthy with this dish, you’ve earned yourself the go-ahead to indulge in other ways. Can I interest you in some Irish beers? (See how great this is working out?)

Stouts, red ales, lagers, even cider…here are 10 Irish brews beyond your traditional Guinness that are worth checking out:

  1. Beamish Irish Stout, Ireland
  2. O’Hara’s Irish Stout, Ireland
  3. Porterhouse Oyster Stout, Ireland
  4. North Coast Old No.38 Stout, California
  5. Smithwick’s Irish Ale, Ireland
  6. Murphy’s Irish Red Beer, Ireland
  7. Samuel Adams Irish Red, Massachusetts
  8. Boulevard Brewing Irish Ale, Missouri
  9. Rogue Irish Lager, Oregon
  10. Magners Irish Cider, Ireland

Admittedly, a hippie dippie quinoa salad isn’t the most likely of food pairings for a pint of Irish beer, but it’ll give you plenty of room for a few rounds of beer dessert. Cheers!

Kale Pesto Quinoa

Kale Pesto Quinoa

Kale Pesto Quinoa

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6 servings

This healthy yet hearty quinoa salad makes a great side or meal in itself. Fresh basil adds a wonderful herbaceous flavor, while kale and broccoli bring a vitamin-packed punch.


  • 5 ounces kale (about 3 cups)
  • 2 ounces basil (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, steamed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 chicken breasts, grilled and diced
  • Sliced almonds to garnish


  1. Make the pesto: In a food processor, blend together the walnuts until pulverized. Then add the kale, basil, parmigiano, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and salt. Process until combined, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and whir until evenly combined.
  2. Stir in as much pesto as you'd like into the quinoa. (This recipe makes about twice as much pesto as you need for this dish. Reserve the extra pesto in an airtight container or freeze it. Makes a great spread or dip.)
  3. Mix in the broccoli, tomatoes, and chicken. Garnish with almonds and drizzle of olive oil if you'd like.

This post was published on KQED’s Bay Area Bites on March 15, 2012.

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