Recipe: Wild Mushroom Quinoa Risotto with Chicken

Mushroom quinoa risotto with chicken

Wild Mushroom Quinoa Risotto - Photo by Scott Eason

Huzzah… this is a tasty good quinoa recipe! I’ve been exploring this fashionable, gluten-free “superfood” in the past few months… buying  red quinoa by the mega bag at Costco and seeing how I can stretch its recipe legs.  A versatile, high-protein grain, quinoa can play cold salad, warm side dish made like rice, or the main course like this easy, faux risotto. (Read more about quinoa’s history and nutrition value here.)

This recipe originated in The Complete Idiot’s Guide Quinoa Cookbook, written by Susan Irby, the Bikini Chef, and is one of the better quinoa cookbooks out there. She’s thorough, provides concise instructions and, like other Idiot’s guides, lays it out simply. It’s actually an idiot’s guide. Other recipes to check out in this cookbook: Quinoa Indian Chicken Curry and Roasted Cherry Tomato Quinoa Salad. The book is around $12 on Amazon.com.

Idiot's Guide to Quinoa CookbookI picked this recipe to highlight (and confess that I changed one thing: the original recipe called for turkey cutlets instead of chicken) since I’m freaky fascinated by mushrooms — both wild and cultivated — they add so much earthy umami depth to any dish. This is a creamy, rich dish and does mimic a traditional risotto but you get all that fabulous flavor without the exhausting taskmaster stirring. Plus, quinoa is a high protein grain without all the fast digesting carbs which put you to sleep post haste. I’m all about avoiding these side effects of the rice risotto nightmare so when I spotted this while thumbing the cookbook pages, I was all over it like red on quinoa.

Serve this main dish with steamed green beans tossed in whole grain mustard and a bottle of French Red Burgundy or American Pinot Noir like Gary Farrell.

Wild Mushroom Quinoa Risotto with Chicken

Serves 8 people (hearty portions and this freezes well). This version calls for a variety of fresh mushrooms but feel free to substitute whatever mushrooms float your boat. Also, you can omit the chicken if you’re looking for a vegetarian version.

2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
3 medium shallots, peeled and diced
1 Tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup shitake mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup porcini mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup crimini or button mushrooms, chopped
2 large chicken breasts, cut up into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup skim milk
1 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/3 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese

Directions

1. In a large dutch oven over medium heat, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Add shallots and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes.
2. Stir in wine and quinoa. Add broth and mushrooms. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile in a separate saute pan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper then add to pan and saute until cooked through. Set aside and keep warm.
4. When quinoa has finished cooking, uncover and stir in milk, sour cream, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper until combined and mixture has thickened slightly, about 1 minute.
5. Stir in parsley and cheese until combined and cheese has melted.
6. To serve, either layer the quinoa with chicken (as shown in picture) using a baking mold or mix into the risotto. Your choice.

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