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Ball Jar Lunch: Curried Quinoa with Greens and Caramelized Sweet Potatoes

February 16, 2012

curried quinoa with collards and sweet potatoes in a ball jar

Today’s ball jar lunch recipe is the epitome of a great work lunch – all substance and little style. It may not look pretty, but this meal isn’t about wowing your coworkers with your culinary style – it’s about giving you a balanced, complete meal in a jar so you have the nutrition to power through that 4pm meeting while your coworkers struggle to stay awake. And as an added bonus, you can be sure no one’s going to steal this out of the shared work fridge! Enjoy!

Curried Quinoa with Greens and Caramelized Sweet Potatoes (recipe adapted from Kirstin Uhrenholdt via The Family Dinner)

Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side

The key to sublime caramelization is starting the sweet potatoes in a cold oven and allowing them to slowly cook as the oven heats, a brilliant trick we’ve now extended to all our root vegetable roasting.


4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 1/4″ thick

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 – 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced

1 1/2 Tbs curry powder

1 bunch collard cut into 1/2″ strips (kale, chard or any other leafy green will work too)

1 1/2 cups quinoa, thoroughly rinsed and drained

3 cups stock or water

olive oil


First, toss your sliced sweet potatoes with olive oil to coat and place in a single layer on a baking sheet or roasting pan (you may need to use multiple pans to fit all the slices in a single layer). Cover with tin foil and place in a COLD oven. Turn the oven on to 450 and allow to bake for 30 minutes, flipping the slices half way through cooking. After 30 minutes remove the tin foil and allow to bake an additional 10-15 minutes until well caramelized and quite brown around the edges.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, heat a splash of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add your onion. Saute the onion until translucent and soft, then then add the garlic, ginger and curry powder and cook, stirring frequently, an additional minute. Add your greens in batches and allow to wilt, adding a bit of your stock if things have started sticking to the bottom of the pot. Once the greens have wilted stir in your quinoa and cook for a minute or two before adding the rest of your stock. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low, cover and allow to continue simmering undisturbed for 15 minutes. Uncover and stir – if there is still a bit of liquid remaining allow it to cook off, if not, turn off your heat, and fluff the quinoa with a fork.

If serving immediately place a heap of your quinoa and greens onto a plate or bowl and top with sweet potatoes. If you’re not eating this right away, combine the sweet potatoes with the quinoa and greens after they’ve cooled separately.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2012 4:41 pm

    I must politely disagree… I think your ball jar lunch looks beautiful!!! I would steal it the moment your back was turned… but then I do have a thing for both ball jars and fancy fare. Thanks to the two Freds (did you know Fred means peace in Danish?). Sincerely, Kirstin Uhrenholdt.

  2. March 4, 2012 9:57 am

    Thanks Kirstin! For both this delicious recipe, which we love, and the encouragement! Luckily this Fred only has one coworker to share a work fridge with so if someone steals my lunch I know who to blame!

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