What do you call a dish where the grain absorbs all the liquid and then some becoming tender, starchy and delicious in the process? Usually you call it risotto, but when you make it with quinoa, I think you should be able to call if quinoa-sotto.
Quinoa (pronounced "Kin-Wah") is a tiny tiny grain native to the Americas. Gastronomically, quinoa brings a sweet nuttiness to a dish and when cooked properly offers a similar texture to a couscous with a bit more spring to it.
Nutritionally, quinoa is a serious overachiever. Most other grains lack lysine (which should keep the dinosaurs from getting off the island). Quinoa not only has lysine, but also tons of protein, vitamins (especially in the B family), minerals, and even iron and folate. If it hasn't yet taken over the place of rice or wheat in the American diet, it may be because it is tiny. Each grain is about the size of the point on a dull pencil.
This recipe is really more of a pilaf than a risotto. Quinoasotto is just more fun to say (and type). I intended to put roasted peanuts in this dish at the end, but in the flurry of getting the meal to the table, I neglected to do so. You may also wish to toast the quinoa before you use it in this recipe to give it a nuttier flavor.
Really, you could add just about any vegetable to this you'd like. I would cook the vegetable first then add it to the quinoa as I do here.
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock
1 onion, diced finely
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 teapoon dried tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic
8 oz. protabella mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
You should first rinse and pick over your quinoa and make sure any foreign material in it is removed. To rinse the quinoa, use an extremely fine collander or use cheesecloth or even strong paper towels over a wider-holed collander to prevent the quinoa from slipping right through. You can also use paper coffeee filters for this purpose.
Heat the butter and oil to a pan with a lid. When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic and sweat over a medium heat until the onions start to go translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the quinoa to the pot and stir. Raise the heat to high. Stir in the stock and tarragon and bring to a boil briefly. Reduce the heat and cover.
In another pan, sautee the mushrooms in a tablespoon of olive oil about 5-7 minutes until they've reduced significantly. Stir the mushrooms into the quinoa. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed
Let cook for 5-10 minutes more until the liquid is absorbed and you have a moist but not soupy pilaf. If the quinoa dries out, add more stock. If its too moist, remove the cover and simmer away the excess stock.
Serve as a side dish. Goes well with Bender's Chickpea-Leek Soup and garlic bread.