I reached for the tri-color quinoa this afternoon and had no idea what was about to happen. Truly I didn’t. I thought I was going to make some quinoa, toss in some canned (line, sustainably, wild caught and all that of course) tuna but that is not what happened at all. I was committed to using what is in my pantry, as I have a snowboarding trip coming up on Wednesday morning and I didn’t not want to do any grocery shopping unless I had to. Nothing beats simple nutrition than tuna and quinoa tossed with some kind of a veggie (and maybe some sriracha) for a quick and nutritious lazy meal. Well, at least for me, but there are endless variations on it to suit every taste, including adding peanut butter for a nutty version, mayo and grainy mustard for a pseudo-French take. It just makes itself practically!!
As I said, that did not happen at all this afternoon and I blame it all on the can of pumpkin that sat so innocently next to the tuna. Both are pantry staples in my house, but that poor can of pumpkin had been neglected since the cold of fall, or cold weather of any type for that matter, passed us by. Come to think of it, did we we even really even have any cold weather?! I usually press it into service to liven up otherwise bland oatmeal, with Aarti Sequeira’s delicious pumpkin oatmeal recipe, but it is cold weather hearty fare, and we have not have much of that to speak of. Well, there was New Year’s Eve and subsequent morning, but we shall not speak of that… Anway, the problems of living in sunny San Diego, right?
So with the tri-color quinoa in one hand, my eyes paused on the canned pumpkin and I thought, “Is it possible? Could I combine these two? No….wait, yes!” and an idea was born. PUMPKIN QUINOA RISOTTO!! Now to be clear, I am sure I am not the first one to think of this, but man…that moment of inspiration felt so exceptional I basked in it. For about a minute. Until I realized my simple lunch wasn’t going to be so simple anymore and I panicked a little. Could I do it? Did I want to make a mess? I have taxes to do and I’m supposed to be cleaning things up for a trip on Wednesday. Inspiration one out and the “to do” list was pushed aside. And am I glad I brushed the momentary pause/fear/self-doubt off and started cooking.
A risotto is simple right? Sauted onions or shallots in butter, toss in rice, wine, and slowly add warm chicken broth a cup or so at a time stirring until a creamy yet still loose consistency appears, through in some cheese and done! Too bad I didn’t have any shallots or onions though. I thought I was dead in my track, until I remember I had a garden full of green onions. BIG GREEN GARDEN FRESH SCALLIONS! This would do – onwards Kitchen Cooker!!
The ensuing recipe happened and all came together well, I hardly thought of taking pictures for the blog. In the process though, I knew I wasn’t going to be satisfied with just the risotto. I thought about putting some smoked canned sardines on top, but I thought…eeeyyyyyeee dunno…that’s pushing it. Maybe if they were fresh, but canned ones have a certain strong quality, that while delicious would override what I was going on in the pumpkin quinoa risotto thing. I do have lots of tuscan kale in my garden though and since I had the superfood thing going (pumpkin and quinoa are in on that right?!) I decided on tossing kale into the party as well. Sautéed in olive oil, with some chicken broth, sherry vinegar, and smoked paprika of course. I mean..duh. I left the stalks in, to give that extra crunch texture the cream quinoa lacked, along with the smokiness from the paprika. Just be sure to cook it a little longer if you include the stalks, otherwise they are tough and a little bitter.
Oh, and whilst I had a bottle of white wine open for the “risotto” I might as well pour a glass to enjoy with my lunch. It sure beats uploading tax documents and folding laundry (my previous plan…gross). What. A. Lovely. Monday. Holiday. Cheers!!!
Creamy Pumpkin Quinoa “Risotto”
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3-4 green onions (scallions) finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups quinoa, rinsed well and drained
- 1/2 cup dry white wine – ok, maybe a cup. So sue me. Then drink some. 🙂
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and allow it to melt. When the foaming subsides, add the green onions. Cook, stirring often, for about 5-7 minutes. Once softened, add the quinoa. Cook, stirring constantly, allowing any of the excess water to evaporate.
- When the quinoa drys out, add the white wine and stir well. Allow the wine to cook down and almost evaporate.
- Add 2 cups of the vegetable stock and lower heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir every so often.
- Add another cup of vegetable stock, stir a few times, and let cook for another 5-10 minutes.
- Once that liquid has been absorbed, add the remaining 1 cup stock plus the pumpkin puree. Stir again and let cook, uncovered, until all of the liquid is absorbed. Add more stock if needed. The quinoa should be cooked through completely.
- Stir in the cheese in. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.
- Top with diced kale that has been sauteed in olive oil, chicken stock, a splash of sherry vinegar, and a dash of smoked paprika. Drizzle with olive oil!