Semi-Italian Quinoa Risotto

Semi-Italian Quinoa Risotto: Act I (of III)

The menu for the delicious dinner pictured below will be presented in three parts: 

1) Semi-Italian Quinoa Risotto
2) Wined-and-Divine(d) Baby Portobello Mushrooms
3) Stove Top Bistro Steaks

The combined dinner, as plated, looked so very pretty that I have to share it now, even though this post is just going to focus on the quinoa: 

Quinoa is so wonderful. It’s nutty, protein-rich, and closely related to the tumbleweed (promise), which means that it meets my standard for any dinner staple. It’s also one of the most versatile grains around. It re-heats a far cry better than rice (dry, dry, dry!), is more nutrient-dense than grits (but don’t tell Paula), and has more depth of flavor than pasta (so drab). 

In addition to the three-part recipe sequence above, I love making this risotto with a variety of meals. One of my other favorite was to enjoy is with sauteed chicken and blistered tomatoes, plus pesto and shaved Parmesan cheese as a perfectly summery Italian-style dinner. 

The following recipe makes the perfect couple-sized portion: two heaping dinner bowls (maybe a bite for seconds) and enough for a lunch box tomorrow (I always eat something small at my desk, so the BF gets the benefit of leftovers, that lucky devil). Speaking of the BF, he didn’t eat mushrooms or quinoa before we met. I didn’t eat steak. What we thought were jack-sprat tastebuds (no fat! no lean!) have turned out to be the best way to introduce two people set in their tastebud ways to all of these delights we didn’t know were waiting for us. 

Semi-Italian Quinoa Risotto
Makes 4 servings

You will need:
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cube low-sodium vegan/vegetarian stock 
  • 6 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 7 ounces roasted red peppers, rinsed and diced
  • 15 kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Paprika, salt, pepper, and oregano
  • Place 1 cup quinoa in a medium sized pot and cover with 1 1/2 cups of water. Add the cube of low-sodium stock and let it soak for about five minutes. 
  • Turn the heat on the stove to medium, and give the mixture a couple of stirs. Leave the pot uncovered until the mixture begins to boil. 
  • Stir in the spices (paprika, salt, pepper, and oregano to taste) and cover the pot. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and leave it be for five minutes. 
  • During these five minutes, have at least half a glass of wine to reward yourself for cooking such a delicious and healthy meal. Also, find time to cut up the roasted red peppers, feta, and kalamata olives into small bites. 
  • After five minutes, uncover briefly to add the feta, like so: 
  • Cover again and let it sit for five more minutes. Have most of the rest of your glass of wine. After five minutes, remove the lid and stir the quinoa, adding in the olives, roasted red peppers, balsalmic vinegar, and olive oil. 
  • Stir the ingredients thoroughly, leaving the heat on low, for about two minutes, to let the ingredients get acquainted. 
  • Remove the pot from heat and let the quinoa rest for a few minutes (three should be fine), stirring everything up one more time while you finish up that wine. 

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