Asparagus and Mushroom Quinoa Risotto

I bought asparagus at the store earlier this week and was determined to do something interesting with it.  I was really wanting risotto, but didn’t have any of what are typically the main ingredients – Arborio rice, cooking wine, and large amounts of cheese.  But you know what?  I made it anyways, and it turns out that you don’t actually need any of those things for a delicious risotto after all. 

Asparagus and Mushroom Quinoa Risotto

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Ingredients:  (serves 4)

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 small yellow or white onion
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance (or butter)
  • salt to taste

Instructions:  Start by pouring the vegetable broth into a sauce pan and bringing it up to a light simmer.  Having hot stock or broth is an important step in making risotto!

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Next, dice the onion and mushrooms and sauté in olive oil over medium heat.  This is one instance where you definitely want to use stainless cookware rather than something non-stick.  You want the onions and mushrooms to create some fond and browning on the bottom of the pan.  Color = flavor!

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One the onion and mushroom are browning, add the dry quinoa and stir to coat in the olive oil.  Continue to stir and cook over medium high heat for about 3 minutes – just enough to coat the quinoa and toast it a bit. 

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Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to deglaze the bottom of the pan, and then begin adding the hot vegetable stock to the quinoa one ladle at a time. 

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Add stock and stir continuously over medium heat until most liquid is absorbed.  Once absorbed, add another ladle full of stock, and continue to do so for 25-30 minutes total, or until quinoa is cooked and risotto is creamy.

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In between ladles and stirring, cut asparagus into bite sized pieces.  Make sure to trim the woody ends!

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If you are 39 weeks pregnant, 30 minutes of continuous standing and stirring may require a stool to be brought over to the stove. 

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When you only have 3 or 4 ladles left, add the raw asparagus to your mixture and stir to combine and cook.  Continue to cook and stir until almost all liquid is absorbed.  Finish by adding 1 tablespoon Earth Balance for a touch more creaminess, and season to taste with salt.

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It’s hard to believe that something so creamy and rich is actually dairy-free, and a nutritional powerhouse.

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Risotto is one of those dishes that is a little time intensive, but the end result is always so totally worth it.  Best served immediately after cooking!

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Traditional risottos made with rice, wine, and cheese are most definitely delicious as well, but this version proves that you should never let your pantry limit your creativity. 

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Enjoy!