Well it seems that March, like February, has just flown by. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve been wondering when it’s actually going to begin to feel like spring in the northeast! We had a few 40° days in the beginning of the month, abruptly followed by an appalling amount of snow.
And after a lot of shoveling, a few more warm days, and a lot more cold days, the snow has finally begun to disappear. Luckily, those few spring-like days in early March put me in the mood to start my seedlings. (Quite a feat for me, queen of procrastination that I am.) So even though it has been crummy and cold outside, I’ve had little bits of spring sprouting and growing in my kitchen.
Speaking of seeds, did you know that quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain? I discovered quinoa about six years ago, when I randomly bought a box of it in the organic aisle of the grocery store. And after reading the back of the box while I was waiting for it to cook, I learned what a wonderful, highly-nutritious complete protein it is! I also learned how to pronounce it (bonus).
My favorite, lazy way to make quinoa is to throw in some peas and soy sauce. But this time, I was curious how it would work as a risotto. The answer: quite well! The only thing that could have made this dish better is some shrimp. My boyfriend thought it was a little too lemony (although I didn’t mind it). If you don’t love lemon, you might want to use the zest of only half a lemon, and leave the juice out all together. But if you add shrimp, use it all!
Asparagus & Lemon Quinoa Risotto
- 4½ cups of stock (chicken or vegetable)
- 1½ cups of quinoa
- 1 bunch of asparagus, chopped
- 1 lemon (zest & juice)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp of butter
- ¼ cup of parmesan cheese, grated
- ¼ dry white wine
Forgive my image-heavy post . . .
Soak quinoa in a bowl of water for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, bring stock to a boil in a large pot (you’ll want to use a pot that has a well-fitting lid). Keep the lid on the pot when you aren’t actually transferring things in and out of the pot, to keep evaporation to a minimum.
Once the stock begins to boil, add asparagus. Boil for 5–7 minutes, then transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Place in the fridge or an ice bath. Bring the stock down to barely a simmer and cover.
While asparagus cooks, melt 1 tbsp of butter in a large, shallow pan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Drain quinoa and add to the pan. Saute for about a minute, then lower heat slightly. Using a ladle (or something similar), ladle in just enough stock to cover the quinoa. Let simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed, then ladle in the same amount of stock. Continue until the liquid is gone, and the quinoa is fully cooked (when the white germ ring becomes visible around the outside). If you’re running low on liquid and your quinoa isn’t fully cooked, just add some water to your stock pot, bring it to a simmer, and then continue with that.
As the last of your liquid is being absorbed, add in asparagus and white wine. Once the liquid is gone, remove from heat and stir in butter, lemon juice and zest, and parmesan cheese.
Sidenote: One of my favorite things to do with leftover risotto is to use it in a frittata (with hot sauce and maple syrup). I haven’t tried it with quinoa, but I don’t foresee it being bad!