Quinoa Risotto – Technique and Recipes
Quinoa is everywhere, from top end restaurants to fast-casual chain places – but it is often ignored by the home cook. It should be used more, on a regular basis – it is healthier than rice or pasta, (having a high nutrient content and a source of protein), and an interesting flavor and texture.
So, rather than using rice in these risotto recipes, this dish features quinoa. We still want a creamy, almost pudding-like texture with al dente grains. If you have been following our risotto techniques series (click HERE), you’ll find this recipe follows the same formula. Actually, the quinoa recipes in this article are pretty forgiving, so feel free to experiment with any additions you like, making your own combinations.
While doing our research, we came across a great article in the NY Times by one of our favorites, Mark Bittman (click HERE). The article is called “Just When You Thought Quinoa Couldn’t Be Crunchier” and features some very fun riffs on using quinoa, including a recipe for Three Cheese and Mushroom Quinoa which we are republishing below.
Have lots of quinoa fun! Let us know how it works out for you.
- 1 cup dry quinoa (red, white, black, or a combination).
- 4 to 5 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup dry white wine (we use Soave)
- 2 chopped shallots
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint (don't use dried for this recipe)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (don't use dried for this recipe)
- salt and black pepper
- 3 cups spinach, roughly chopped
- ½ cup feta cheese
- Heat the stock to a simmer.
- Put the butter or oil in a large, deep skillet or saucepan over medium heat. When it is hot, add the shallots and about one half of the spinach; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach wilts, about 3 minutes.
- Add the quinoa, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s glossy and coated with butter or oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then add the wine. Stir, letting most of the liquid bubble away. Immediately add 1 cup of stock while stirring, making sure the liquid bubbles. When the stock has mostly absorbed, add another ½ cup. When the stock is nearly evaporated, add more (1/2 cup at a time). Continue to cook, stirring frequently and adding stock as necessary; the mixture should be neither soupy nor dry.
- Begin to taste-test the quinoa after about 20 minutes; it should be tender but not mushy, and should be releasing its starch into the broth. Once the risotto is at this stage, add the remaining spinach and herbs. Stir in more broth, if needed, and simmer with a lid on the pan for 3 to 4 minutes. (Putting a lid on is not traditional for risotto, but it is necessary to complete the cooking).
- Remove the lid, then add in the feta cheese.
- ¾ cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil, plus more to taste
- 2 chopped shallots
- 1 cup chopped shiitake caps
- 1 ½ cups quinoa
- Salt and ground black pepper
- ½ cup dry white wine or water
- 3 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- ¼ cup each freshly grated Parmesan, chopped Fontina and crumbled Gorgonzola
- Cover the dried mushrooms with 1 cup hot water, and set aside until softened, 5 to 10 minutes; drain through cheese cloth, reserving the soaking liquid. , Rough chop the rehydrated mushrooms.
- Bring the broth to a simmer.
- Put the butter or oil in a large, deep skillet or saucepan over medium heat. When it is hot, add the shallots and dried and fresh mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shiitakes begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the quinoa, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s glossy and coated with butter or oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then add the wine. Stir, letting the liquid bubble away. Add the porcini soaking liquid, being careful not to pour in any sediment.
- Start adding the stock about ½ cup at a time, stirring after each addition and adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle bubble. When the stock is nearly evaporated, add more. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and adding stock as necessary; the mixture should be neither soupy nor dry.
- Begin tasting the quinoa about 20 minutes after you added it; you want it to be tender but not mushy and to have released some of its starch. Put a lid on the pan for 5 minutes. If necessary, add more broth. Once the risotto is at the desired consistency, remove the lid, then stir in the cheeses, along with a little more butter or oil if you like. Stir until the cheeses melt; taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve.