Moroccan-Inspired Grilled Quail with Sauteed Kale and Grilled Lemons

If you’re someone who has wondered if cooking a bird as small as a quail is worth the time and effort, let us remind you that good things do indeed come in small packages. As far as time and effort goes, it requires very little of either to serve quail. Its small size means that it takes just a sprinkle of seasoning or a brief amount of time in a marinade to add tons of extra flavor. Not that you need to; even with just a dash of salt, quail meat is tender and succulent. And quail cooks very quickly – 10 minutes or so on the grill and dinner is ready.

The daintiness of quail makes it seem like a fancy meal, but we recommend putting away the white tablecloth and good silver. Quail is the perfect finger food, so drop the knife and fork and dig in. If your butcher gives you a choice, semi-boneless quail (rib cage removed) are easier to eat than un-boned quail (which are what we used for this recipe). Not all butchers carry quail, but it should be easy to special order. Plan on about 2 quail per person.

Grilling quail makes the outside nice and crispy, and the slightly charred flavor of the skin is perfect with this toasty Moroccan-inspired spice blend. On the side, kale sautéed with kalamata olives is finished with the sweet, smoky juice of grilled lemons.

You can have this whole meal on the table in about 30 minutes, although it will taste like you slaved over it for hours. Enjoy!


3-4 servings

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 8 quail

  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 2-3 bunches of kale, leaves pulled off the tough stems
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • A drizzle of olive oil


Mix together the 8 rub ingredients. Use your fingers to smear the rub all over the quail.

Prepare your grill so the heat is medium-high.

Grill the quail 4 to 6 minutes on each side. It’s normal for fully cooked quail meat to remain a little pink at the bone. If you can easily pull meat away from the leg bones with a fork, it’s done.

Rub a little olive oil on the cut lemon and grill next to the quail, cut side down.

Remove quail and lemons from the grill.

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the kale until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Drain and shake off excess water.

Heat a little bit of olive oil in a skillet and add shallot and garlic. Saute a few minutes then add kale, olives and red pepper flakes.

Saute a few minutes more then finish by squeezing juice from the grilled lemon on top.

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