Quinoa with Spinach Kale Pecan Pesto

I used black kale (but any will do), sub'd pine nuts for pecans and it tasted great. This makes delicious leftovers.

1 T olive oil
1 onion (chopped)
1 red pepper, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and cut diagonally
1 1/2 c quinoa
3 c vegetable broth (or 1 can broth and make up the rest with water)
6 oz kale, stems removed and torn into pieces (6 oz kale is a lot of kale. I think somewhere between 1.5 and 2 bunches works well)
6 oz baby spinach (I'm sure regular spinach would work as well)
1/4 c pecans, toasted
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 c grated parmesan
1/4 c olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 t cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

(Note: I did an added step and chopped the garlic and sauteed it for a minute in a bit of olive oil, because I don't like my pesto to taste like raw garlic. That's optional and not in the recipe.)

Begin boiling a large pot of water for step 2. 

1. Heat 1T olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and red pepper and cook until tender, about 8 min. Add in carrots and cook for 2 min. Add quinoa and 3 cups of vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 25 minutes (or until broth is absorbed and the quinoa germ has spiraled out). Allow to remain covered for additional 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place kale and spinach in large pot with boiling water. Cover and heat over medium-high heat. Cook for 5 minutes or until kale is still bright green but wilted. Drain and reserve cooking liquid. Allow kale to cool.

3. Chop together pecans and garlic in food processor. Add in kale and spinach and blend completely. Add in parmesan (kale and spinach should be completely cooled first) and blend. Add oil and vinegar. If needed, add in cooking liquid until desired consistency has been reached. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Combine quinoa mixture with pesto and toss. Serve warm, topping with additional parmesan if desired.

From "The Quintessential Quinoa Cookbook" by Wendy Polish