This spring, I conquered my fear of risotto [read about it here]. This is a continuation of my adventures in overcoming kitchen-terror...
I've been teaching classes for the last few weeks at Suite ThreeOhSix, a vegan supperclub and cooking academy in Tribeca. The company's head chef Daphne and, of course, the students taking the classes have been tremendously inspiring. Last week, we got talking about different uses for quinoa, particularly how it can make a great base for an alternative kind of risotto. (Incidentally, at a recent supperclub dinner, Daphne created some seriously incredible vegan barley risotto with fresh purple asparagus and green garbanzo beans. #Amazing.) Between the conversation in class and the reintroduction to the idea of risotto sans rice, I decided to tackle dinner this week with another take on this dish. This time, I used a few of the wacky veggies from our CSA to create something a little different.
The recipe that follows was the result. Let me tell you why I love it.
1. It uses homemade mushroom broth (a great way to use your mushroom stems, reduce waste and eat more food without a package)
2. It's versatile: you could throw in any veggies you like. The ones I used happened to be in our CSA box this week.
3. Coconut oil makes everything taste good. It's highly anti-inflammatory, it's beautifully useable for the body (the saturated fat in coconut is similar to the fat in our bodies, so we use it to do things like line the nervous system), it provides fullness and allows the body to chill out (fat = calmness, when it comes from the right sources).
4. It's really gorgeous! So much color!
Of the goodies in our CSA, this recipe put the baby beets (adorable!) + their tops and some curly kale to use. I had some mushrooms from the farmers market leftover from a curry extravaganza, so those went into the oven to roast up. It's amazing how changing how you cook something so dramatically changes how it tastes!
The quinoa pictured here is tri-color (red, white and black, all in one mixture), but any kind will do. My personal favorite is the red - I find it's the nuttiest tasting one - but in the interest of nutrient variety and also prettiness, the tri-color is a lot of fun to play with. You can also create your own mixture by purchasing different colors and blending them at home in the proportion you like. This is often the most cost-effective way to do it, as tri-color tends to be the most expensive.
The secret to this risotto is to let it cook down over and over each time you add the mushroom broth. As the broth absorbs, the quinoa becomes creamier, no dairy or cheese needed! The cooking sherry also brings a lovely flavor - truly, that risotto taste you might find in a restaurant. You could also use a dry white wine instead if you had that on hand. Making this dish while drinking the wine could also be a fun time. Low-stress recipes lend themselves to a little grown-up treat, no?
This recipe was a lovely, semi-fancy-feeling Sunday dinner -- and for being a warm dish, felt surprisingly summery. Must be all those awesome local, in-season veggies.
Have you had adventures in making risotto? What do you do with your CSA veggies?
- 2 cups baby bella or shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and reserved
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt + a few pinches extra
- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (3/4 cup dry + 1 1/2 cups water)
- 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, divided
- 4 green onions
- 2 tbsp sherry
- 1 1/2 tsp tamari
- 3 large kale leaves
- 1 bunch baby beets, green tops removed and reserved
- 1. Remove mushroom stems and bring to a boil in 2 cups water with 1 tsp onion powder and 1 tsp salt. Reduce to a simmer and cook for ~30 minutes. If you're cooking your quinoa (as opposed to having it prepared in advance), put it on to boil now. Bring to a boil in 1 1/2 cups water, reduce to simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes until water is absorbed.
- 2. While stock and quinoa boil, preheat oven to 350F.
- 3. Slice your mushrooms and place on a baking sheet with a drizzle of oil. Bake for ~30 minutes until slightly shriveled.
- 4. Wash and prep your veggies. Remove beet tops, wash and slice into 1/2" ribbons.
- 5. Heat coconut oil in medium pot over medium heat. Add green onions and sautee 3 minutes until aromatic.
- 6. Add beet tops and sautee another minute.
- 7. Add quinoa, tamari, sherry and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine then reduce heat to medium-low.
- 8. Add 1/2 cup mushroom broth (straining out mushroom stems). Stir. Allow these to cook together for 2 minutes, or until broth is absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup of broth every 2 minutes or so, until quinoa reaches a slightly creamy consistency. Remove from heat and cover.
- 9. While quinoa cooks, heat remaining coconut oil in another skillet and sautee kale ~4 minutes. When kale is nearly crispy, add beets to half the pan and cook. Remove from heat when kale slightly browns on the edges and beets are slightly softened.
- 10. Remove mushrooms from the oven and slice thinly.
- 11. Serve quinoa risotto topped with mushrooms, with kale and baby beets on the side.