Monday, March 18, 2013
Vegetable Quinoa Risotto
Before we get started, I want to make it clear that I realize "risotto" is properly made with a starchy, short grain rice like arborio, but I would also like to say on the record that twee coinages and portmanteaux like "quinotto" make me unbelievably stabby, which is both illegal and so not vegan. So we'll just call this dish quinoa risotto for the sake of peace in our time, okay? Good.
Quinoa, as everyone knows by now, is one of Nature's Super Wonder Foods: gluten-free, high in protein, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, fiber, and magical fairy unicorn sparkles, it's been among the top-ranking nutritional sweethearts of the last decade or so. (And ain't it purty?) The other good news is that it's also yummy and versatile; similar to couscous in its light and fluffy texture, but with a cute little squiggly tail that only appears after it's cooked. While it's not technically a starch, it behaves like one in its ability to absorb and/or act as a backdrop for other flavors, which makes it a nice change from the usual "bed of whatever" upon which curries, stews, etc. are often ladled.
In this particular case, quinoa is that darling of the busy and harassed cook: the one pot meal! And since it requires less of the finicky, constantly stirring attention than its demanding namesake, this risotto lets you step away from the stove to pour some wine, play with your dog, make a salad, chat with whoever's hanging out in the kitchen, or all of the above. (I just used the vegetables I had on hand, so you can obviously substitute what's available in your kitchen; I do recommend starting with onions and using a really good, flavorful broth.)
Vegetable Quinoa Risotto
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 large onion, diced
~ 1 bell pepper, diced
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 2 cups sliced mushrooms
~ 2 tsp. tarragon
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, thyme, marjoram
~ 1/2 tsp. white pepper
~ 2 cups quinoa
~ 1/2 cup white wine
~ 4-5 cups broth (insert plug for Better Than Bouillon's No Chicken)
~ 1 cup frozen peas
~ 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
~ 1-2 tbsp. Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
~ In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté the onion in the olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until softened.
~ Stir in the pepper, garlic, and dried seasonings and cook another few minutes.
~ Add the mushrooms, cover the pan, and cook about 5-7 minutes, until the mushrooms have softened and released their liquid.
~ Add the quinoa, stir to coat, and then pour in the half cup of wine. Cook another minute or two and then add the broth. Raise heat to high and bring just to a boil before lowering back to a simmer.
~ Allow to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
~ Add the peas and cook another few minutes, until they are bright green. Add the Earth Balance, the nutritional yeast, and a little more liquid if necessary; mix thoroughly and serve hot.