Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Quinoa Mushroom Risotto

I don't usually buy into food fads or whatever, but I had heard enough about quinoa to think it might be worthwhile to give it a try. Before this I had only eaten it in a salad, which was good, but nothing to get excited about. But then I heard that you can use it as a rice substitute... and that opened a whole bunch of doors... Note: I ramble a bit, but it's a good reflection of what I actually do in the kitchen...

This will serve four people... recipe is as I made it (I don't really measure anything when cooking, so consider all this approximations); below the recipe are suggestions for variations. 

This will be easiest in a large non-stick skillet.

3 cups cooked quinoa (I was super happy to discover that you can cook quinoa in the rice cooker; 2 parts water to each part grain. I cooked mine in chicken broth I had handy, but you can pretty much cook it in whatever).

2 cups raw sliced mushrooms (I used mini portas, but you can use whatever mix of mushroom you like. I think this would taste fabulous with lobster mushrooms...)

1/2 cup diced onion (I prefer sweet, but it's onion, doesn't matter that much)

4-infinite cloves garlic, chopped (I like my garlicky, but others may not. Personally, I don't believe there is such a thing as too much garlic.)

1/2 of a small tub of cream cheese (I used Philly Lite).

1/4-1/2 cup milk or cream (depends how saucy you like your risotto)

Blob of butter for sautéing. Use olive oil if you want it to be a smidgen healthier.

Heat skillet on medium-high. Throw on butter or oil. Once heated through, throw in onion. I like my onions just short of burnt, so I cook them a while before adding mushrooms. Continue cooking until mushrooms are to desired doneness (my mushroom desires vary depending on the varieties of mushrooms involved). Add chopped garlic. I like my garlic potent, so I only stir it around for 30 seconds before continuing; however, if you like your garlic flavour milder (it sweetens as it cooks, but loses it punch), add it earlier/cook it longer. Dump in the quinoa; heat through. Turn down to low heat. Throw in cheese; add milk/cream  as needed to prevent cheese burn. Mix it all around. Salt and pepper to taste. If it's not cheesy/saucy enough, add more cream cheese/milk/cream. 

This is how I made it for a late quick dinner (I already had cooked quinoa handy).

Suggested variations:

You can of course, throw in all kinds of other vegetables and meat. Spinach would be tasty, or maybe small chopped bits of cauliflower/broccoli. I was tempted to throw in some chicken, but then got lazy. Shrimp would be tasty; but for god's sake, don't overcook shrimp, everyone in Alberta seems to overcook shrimp (except for Olga). 

At the onions/mushrooms sautéing stage, you can toss it a few dribbles of balsamic vinegar and let that reduce. I also sometimes throw in a few squirts of Worcestershire sauce. If you want a show, you can throw on some wine or vodka and flambé it at this point too.

A spoonful of curry powder with the cheese adding would turn this into a fusion dish. You can also get creative by adding whatever herbs/spices you find in the cabinet (I would normally do this, but it was late and I was lazy). Parmesan seems like a reasonable addition, but I find it often overpowers; it would make it all clumpier so you may have to compensate with more liquids.

Anyways, I've rambled on enough; I don't think you can really get this wrong... throw stuff in a pan, cook until tasty :)

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