Jessica Grosman

Quinoa, Lentil & Kale Berbere Skillet

Jessica Grosman
Quinoa, Lentil & Kale Berbere Skillet

This week, I'm taking you on a trip to Ethiopia, without even leaving the comforts of your own home!  I find it amazing that we have the ability to experience the smells and flavors of a far-away land by using some simple ingredients in our own kitchens.  While I've never visited Ethiopia, I have eaten plenty of meals in wonderful Ethiopian restaurants, and I always leave inspired to recreate the dishes at home.

Last weekend, I spent the long holiday weekend in Washington, DC, with my family.  We were there to relax, for my daughter to play in a squash tournament, and to enjoy the sights and the culinary scene that our nation's capital has to offer.  I gave my daughter the option to choose the restaurant for our Saturday evening meal, and she immediately replied that she wanted to eat at Das.  

We have eaten many meals at Das in the past, and each time I'm there, I can't wait to go home and recreate the flavors of their food in my own kitchen.  Ethiopian food is so flavorful and aromatic; the country is at the crossroads of Africa and the Middle East, so the spices and flavors are influenced by many places.  The predominant spice blend, used to season many of the dishes in Ethiopia, is Berbere.  It is made of chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima, rue, ajwain, nigella, and fenugreek.  While I enjoy making my own spice blends at home, Berbere is made of some spices that are individually difficult to find here.  The easiest option is to buy a package of Berbere, which you can find at Whole Foods or online.    

When I eat at Das, I enjoy a big platter with a variety of vegetable stews.  There are always lentils, split peas, green beans, cabbage, and eggplant, all served with the addictively delicious injera bread.  Of all the dishes that I've tasted, the lentil stews are my favorite.  Some are spicy, others are more subtle, but the flavors are deep, rich, and full of soul.  I knew that I wanted to recreate those flavors in an easy-to-make recipe this week.  The result is my own version of a Berbere Sauce, which I've mixed with quinoa, lentils and kale in a one skillet dish.  This recipe satisfies my cravings for a meal out at Das, it's my simple way of "armchair traveling" this week.  
Wishing you a relaxing weekend, full of delicious food, health & wellness.


Quinoa, Lentil & Kale Berbere Skillet

print recipe here

Ingredients: (note - use organic whenever possible) 

1T sunflower seed oil 3 C chopped kale
1 C cooked quinoa
1 C cooked lentils 

1 1/2 T Berbere Sauce + additional to drizzle on top (see recipe below)

2 T water
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste 


Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chopped kale and sauté until it has wilted and released water, approximately 2-3 minutes. 

Add the cooked quinoa and cooked lentils to the skillet, lower the heat, and stir to combine. Pour the Berbere Sauce and 2 T water into the skillet and toss to coat all of the ingredients with the sauce. Keep the pan on low heat, stirring occasionally, until hot and bubbling on the edges. 

Taste for seasoning, adding sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Serve hot, with additional Berbere Sauce drizzled on top, if desired. 

recipe yields 2 servings
double recipe for more servings
leftovers keep well, chilled in a covered container, for 3 days. Reheat gently to serve. 

Ethiopian Berbere Spice Sauce

Ingredients:  (note - use organic whenever possible)

1 T sunflower seed oil

1/2 C finely chopped onion (1/2 medium onion)

1 T tomato paste

2 t Berbere spice mix

1/2 C water


Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add sunflower seed oil.  Once oil is hot, add onions and sauté until softened.  Stir frequently to prevent burning, cook for approximately 8 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the onions.  Next, add the Berbere spice mix and allow to warm-up and become aromatic, approximately 2 minutes.  Add the water, stir to combine.  Bring mixture to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer.

Allow mixture to simmer for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat, but keep covered for an additional 20 minutes.  Stir and use immediately, or pour into a glass jar, cool, cover and chill for later use.


recipe yields 1/2 cup sauce

sauce keeps well, chilled in a covered container, for up to one week

use sauce as is, or dilute with water or broth for a less-spicy sauce

find Berbere spice mix at your local grocery store or online