Quinoa is weird. I found a few salads to make with it last summer that I enjoyed, but only because they were loaded with salami and cheese and olive oil (and they really were delicious). Since then I’ve had half a bag of quinoa in my cupboard that even made the cut in a move across town yet has remained untouched. I used it in place of arriboro rice for an attempt at a healthier version of “risotto” and now I’ve made variations of it twice since.
Start with onion and garlic (a universal rule in my kitchen). The onion I used was small – about 1/2 cup when diced up – and 2 cloves of garlic that equated to about a tablespoon if you’re using jarred garlic.
Please don’t use jarred garlic.
Chop and dice to your liking and toss them in a pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spice it up. I used salt, pepper, cayenne, celery seed and cumin. The combination was quite good. I wish I could tell you how much – probably about a tsp of each? I’ll start measuring someday, I promise.
For the mushroom component (this is supposed to be a mushroom risotto after all) I grabbed a mix of about 10 baby bellas, white and crimini.
Clean off the hard woody end and chop them up. Don’t throw away the stems, they can be cleaned and cook up just as nice.
Add them to your onions and garlic that should smell awesome and be fairly translucent by now.
Cook down the mushrooms about 5-10 minutes. Enough so that they’re soft, but not so much you can no longer identify the ingredients you started with.
Add some acidity. Normally I’d go for the white balsamic, but the chosen cheese was feta and the lemon was begging to be a part of the action.
She was extra juicy, so I only used half.
When your flavor base has cooked down appropriately, it’s time for the grain. Please disregard the “use by July 2012” – I swear it worked just fine. It’s simply an ugly reminder of how long it’s taken me to get on this bandwagon.
Add 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups broth (I used vegetable – use whatever you have on hand) to your mushrooms.
Bring to a boil and turn down the heat to low. Simmer covered on low, stirring every couple of minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
When the liquid has about 90% absorbed, add your cheese to let it mix it and start to melt.
3/4 C Reduced Fat Feta, please.
I served it with some shrimp scampi, but it would make a great side dish to any protein.
Or all by itself in a bowl (fork option).
Or let it sit in the fridge for 2 days and then make quinoa cakes (stay tuned).
Calories: 300 – Carbs: 36.6g – Fat: 12.6g – Protein: 12.4g – Fiber: 3.4g