Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Quinoa Risotto

Clearly not a true risotto, this quick and healthy side dish substitutes the traditional Arborio rice for the fast-cooking grain, Quinoa.  

This small, high protein, high fiber grain cooks quickly in chicken broth flavoured with lemon, thyme and garlic.  To recreate risotto's familiar creamy texture, cheese is stirred in during the final moments of cooking!

I purchase quinoa at my local supermarket - the brand I buy is the President's Choice Organics brand from Super Store.  I find this brand cooks well - with all the liquid absorbed, and the quinoa maintaining an aldente texture - but you can substitute any brand you wish - even the black or red varieties for interest - just adjust the cooking time if needed.

The entire box of quinoa contains roughly 1 1/3 cups dried quinoa but I had used about 1/3 cup in another recipe so I used the remaining 1 cup here.  I used all the liquid required by the instructions however to further replicate risotto's 'looser' texture.  If you have a full package use that and add about 1/2 cup additional cooking liquid.

I've also used coconut oil to start the recipe here.  Coconut oil has many health benefits but you can use olive oil or butter instead if you wish!

Quinoa Risotto

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


200 grams button mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp coconut oil (or butter)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stems
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken broth* (plus extra if required)
Juice of one lemon
30 grams soft cheese - goat or cream cheese
pinch each salt and pepper


1.  Clean and chop mushrooms, mince garlic.  Melt coconut oil (or butter) in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and garlic to the pan, add thyme, chili flakes and a pinch of salt.  Cook mushrooms until slightly browned.

2.  Add quinoa to the pan and toast until slightly browned, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.
3.  Add chicken broth and lemon juice to the pan.  Stir. 
5.  Bring broth to a boil, then reduce heat to low.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes or until quinoa is well cooked.
6.  Remove pan from heat and add cheese - stir to melt and incorporate with quinoa.  Return to low heat just to heat through adding extra liquid* (water, chicken broth if required to achieve the desired texture - I added about 1/2 cup water).

Taste for salt, pepper and acidity - adding more lemon if required.  Serve.  

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