Recently though, I saw a quinoa risotto (and can't remember where now) that intrigued me. I've already talked about my love for quinoa before, but I never knew you could cook it risotto-style. I loved the idea of replacing rice with a healthier seed, and especially loved that it wouldn't take any longer to cook than regular risotto.
I decided to make a version with onions, mushrooms, spinach, and goat cheese, which all went really well together. The quinoa was cooked in the same way as regular risotto; I sauteed the onions and mushrooms first, then added the quinoa to briefly toast it, stirred in white wine until it was absorbed, then slowly added vegetable stock while stirring for about 25 minutes. The quinoa didn't reach quite the same creamy consistency as regular risotto when it was finished cooking, but once I stirred in the goat cheese at the end, it was perfect!
This risotto was rich and flavourful and I loved eating it for lunch all last week! I'm not always crazy about cooked spinach so next time I might leave it out, but I did like that it added a different texture and colour to the dish, along with added nutrients. Feel free to experiment with different add-ins and ingredients, just don't leave out the goat cheese, it makes the dish!
Quinoa Risotto with Mushrooms, Spinach, & Goat Cheese
Serves about 2-3 as a main course or 4-5 as a side-dish
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
8 oz package of sliced white or crimini mushrooms, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
6 oz baby spinach
2 oz (about 1/4 cup) goat cheese
Salt and pepper
Add vegetable broth to a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep it gently simmering as you make the risotto.
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and sauté until softened and lightly browned, stirring often, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the garlic and the quinoa and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring often, until quinoa is lightly toasted and fragrant.
Add the wine and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Begin adding vegetable broth to the quinoa, a small ladle at a time, stirring constantly. When each addition of liquid is absorbed by the quinoa mixture, add another small ladleful. Continue adding broth and stirring for about 25-30 minutes total, until quinoa is cooked through and no longer crunchy. You won't have to stir it quite as much as you would traditional risotto - if you like you can add the broth in just three additions and stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Add spinach to quinoa and stir until spinach is wilted. Add goat cheese and stir until melted and completely mixed in.
Remove from heat, taste, and add salt and pepper if desired. Serve warm.
UPDATE: Two commenters below have noted that they thought this was just as good cooked as regular quinoa (without the risotto method), so if you're short on time you could give that a try and let me know how it works out!