My easy quinoa recipe for “Quinoa Risotto” was created after reminiscing about what I used to cook when Andy and I were first married back in 2000. I was thinking back to the the risotto recipe I made for our first Christmas Eve dinner. It was a Risotto with Herbs and it was so good that I still remember it all these years later! It was also rather healthy too; the only not-so-healthy ingredient was the Arborio rice. But all traditional risotto recipes are made with Arborio rice.
What’s wrong with arborio rice? Arborio rice is a short-grain, white rice that readily gives off starch as it is cooked. Arborio rice has the distinction of absorbing flavors very well and achieving the super creamy quality so loved in traditional risotto recipes. The problem with Arborio rice is that it is a fiber-poor, refined grain and not exactly a nutrient-dense food source. It’s pretty much just an empty-calorie carbohydrate.
What can be substituted for arborio rice? Any short whole grain rice can be used as a substitute for Arborio rice in risotto recipes. Short grain brown rice or even ultra-nutritious, antioxidant-rich black rice or Himalayan Red can be substituted for Arborio rice.
Quinoa is a Great Substitute for Arborio Rice
The name risotto comes from the Italian word for rice, so I suppose technically risotto should be made with some sort of rice. But when it comes to cooking, there are no hard and fast rules. You can absolutely use risotto-making techniques to create a “risotto” using other whole grains, such as quinoa. My easy quinoa recipe for “Quinoa Risotto” below is made using one-part quinoa and one-part short grain brown rice, but I have also made the recipe using only quinoa (see notes below.)
Not only is “Quinoa Risotto” recipe far healthier than traditional risotto recipes, it still offers the same rich and creamy comfort-food deliciousness. And, just like the Arborio rice, the quinoa soaks up the flavors of the vegetables, herbs and garlic.
This easy quinoa recipe is hearty enough to be served as a side dish or even as an entree. If you are serving your risotto as an entree and want to make it a bit heartier, try topping it with a soft boiled pastured egg. Enjoy!Print
- 4 cups organic vegetable broth
- 1 leek, stems trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces and washed thoroughly
- 2 whole carrots, cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or “superfood” unrefined red palm oil (Click HERE to learn more about this oil)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Unrefined sea salt, to taste
- ½ cup short grain brown rice
- ½ cup quinoa
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1/4 cup Chardonnay
- 1 can (15.5 ounces) organic diced tomatoes (look for BPA-free such as Eden Foods brand)
- 2 cups frozen organic corn kernels, semi-thawed
- Optional Topping:1/2 cup Pecans, processed into “crumbs” using a food processor
- Bring the broth to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer.
- Place leeks in a food processor and shred. Repeat with carrots. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; add garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Add shredded leeks and carrots and sauté 3-4 minutes, or until tender. Season vegetables lightly with salt. Add the rice and quinoa to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle the thyme on top of the grains. Add the Chardonnay; stirring until liquid evaporates. Ladle 1/2 cup of the hot broth into the pan with the grains and add the tomatoes, stirring constantly. Continue adding the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, and continue periodically stirring until the liquid has been absorbed before adding each subsequent 1/2 cup of water. Cook the grains over medium heat for about 25 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently so the grains do not stick to the pan.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the semi-thawed corn kernels; cover the pan and let the risotto sit for 15 minutes before serving.
- Optional: top risotto with shredded cheese or pecans (or both!)
You can also make this recipe without using any brown rice by simply increasing the amount of quinoa to 1 cup.