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
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
In between ladles and stirring, cut asparagus into bite sized pieces. Make sure to trim the woody ends!
If you are 39 weeks pregnant, 30 minutes of continuous standing and stirring may require a stool to be brought over to the stove.
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.
It’s hard to believe that something so creamy and rich is actually dairy-free, and a nutritional powerhouse.
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!
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.