Monday, November 26, 2007

Quinoa Risotto on the Fly

Aw yeah, I love those kitchen gods and goddesses. Tonight was one of those “Shit-I’m-hungry-what-the-hell-could-I-possibly-throw-together-with-what-I-have-in-the-house?” kind of nights…the kind of night that also occurs in the midst of my frantically trying to complete my cranking out of 50,000 words this month (and happily I am up to 43,351 as of this very moment!).

So there I was, starving and in a hurry. And then this magical recipe happened. And while I am surely not the first to make quinoa risotto, I was darn pleased with the results, cause I don’t usually whip up things like this without lots of planning and grocery shopping.

Here is how I did it, and I have to give credit to my dear friends Steve Lucky and Miss Carmen Getit for recently bestowing me with a fat bag of dried porcini mushrooms – a key ingredient in this recipe!

First, I sautéed half a yellow onion in some olive oil with a little slab of butter. While that was sautéing, I dry-toasted the quinoa in a separate pan (don’t forget to rinse your quinoa well, boys and girls!).

While the two skillets were doing their respective thangs, I soaked a fat handful of said dried porcinis in hot water. Then after about 10 minutes, I took the porcinis out of the water (being careful to reserve the water!) and coarsely chopped them and added them to the onions, along with a couple splashes of Madeira wine. That sautéed for a few minutes and when the onions and mushrooms were golden brown, I added the toasted quinoa, plus the reserved mushroom water (about enough to cover the quinoa by an inch or so) and a fat splash of half & half. Topped it with a couple sprinklings of fresh grated nutmeg, and brought to a boil. Then I lowered the heat to a mild simmer, put a lid on it and ran back upstairs and typed another couple hundred words, because I heart multi-tasking and I am insane!

After about 10 minutes, the liquid had mostly been absorbed and the quinoa was close to being done. At this point I added a couple handfuls of frozen peas and a little more mushroom water. Then I chopped a little bit of aged gouda cheese and added it to the pot, along with a handful of parmesan cheese. Turned up the heat and gave it all a good stir so the cheese would melt. Added salt and pepper, scooped it into a bowl and devoured it as I wrote these very words you are reading.

I am really digging this because it’s rich tasting but not as heavy as risotto made with Arborio rice, and it’s exactly the kind of comfort food I was craving tonight. And it's high in protein, too. It’s nice when this sort of magic happens. Thank you, kitchen spirits.

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