Tag Archives: quinoa

Brown Rice Risotto With Mixed Mushrooms

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It wasn’t so long back that I would never have thought brown rice can become irresistible and fit for a fine dinning experience. I always liked it and thought it was OK, but for a dinner party……not really.

Well here that theory is blown out of the water. Continually searching for healthy options around classic meals I went round the block and back with risotto using barley, kamut and spelt. Quinoa will work but is nowhere near the consistency of a good risotto and really, it is not a risotto. A risotto is with rice, in this case round brown Italian rice.

Using the round brown Italian rice is perfect for this dish. Health food shops and sections at the supermarkets will stock it. It might not even say it on the packet in the supermarket, just look for the smallest roundest grain. Cooking the rice a bit longer than directed gives it a similar richness to what butter gives  which is that creaminess. Brown rice is very forgiving as it will retain a bite even when it goes a bit over. The ‘bite’ in risotto is so important. So over cook it a little to add a rich texture. You can lose the parmesan easily, yeast flakes would work as a substitute and therefore becoming a vegan option or it stands alone with the depth of the mushrooms.

Brown rice outweighs the health benefits of any white rice. A dish like this has a certain air of originality about it as well.  Making healthy food taste good is very popular at the moment.  If you are familiar with brown rice then you will know what a chore it can be to cook time wise which is why I pre-cook this for twenty minutes before starting the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)

200g round brown Italian rice
200g chestnut mushrooms (use any mix of mushrooms, these are just easy to get)
150g portobello mushrooms
75g dried mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic
2 litres of veg stock (cubes or powder)
150ml white wine, sherry or vermouth
30g parmesan
1 green chilli (optional)
100g spinach
Maldon salt and black pepper
1 spring onion or chives
1 lemon

Prep list

Soak the dried mushrooms for twenty minutes (the dish is noticeably better with them and I saw them in all supermarkets when I was back in the UK). Cook the rice in boiling water for 20 mins and drain. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bit sticky.

MixedmushPeel and cut the shallots into small squares. Brush any dirt off the chestnut mushrooms, do not wash though as this gives the mushrooms a sliminess which tends to put people off them. Cut into similar sized squares as the shallots. Cut the portobello mushroom into thick slices. Chop the soaked mushrooms as finely as possible. Press the garlic to a pulp. De-seed and chop the chilli. Grate the parmesan. Make up the stock which needs to be kept hot and add the liquor from the soaked mushrooms to it.

Method

Sautee the portobello slices until browned on each side (if you are using them). Take out of pan and put onto paper to remove excess oil. Fry off the chestnut mushrooms (or mixed mushrooms) and the dried ones in oil. When they start browning add the shallots. When it is all browned and dry add the garlic and green chilli ,combine and cook for a further two mins. Add the precooked rice and stir it in until the excess oil has been absorbed. Add the white wine and let the liquid cook out.

RisottopanWhen the rice starts sticking to the bottom add the stock, a ladleful at a time. Everytime it reduces add more stock. Keep it moving with a spatula which stops it sticking to the bottom.

P1090274After 20mins taste a grain and if its soft but with some bite turn off the heat making sure it is still wet. Add the grated parmesan, ground black pepper, spinach leaves and cooked portobello mushrooms. Put a lid (or cover with foil) on and leave for 5 mins. Take the lid off and gently fold the contents until they are evenly mixed through and the cheese has melted. Be gentle so as not to break or mash up the contents. The risotto needs to be loose so add some more stock if necessary.

To plate up put the risotto put a spoonful in the middle of the plate and smooth it over the surface, to make it nice and flat instead of a pile. Sprinkle to finish with finely cut spring onions.

Chicken and Quinoa Medley

Chicken Quinoa

This is the kind of meal you could make for yourself and eat over a couple of days as long as you keep the sauce and seeds separate

I devised it originally to use up the chicken leftovers from a roast. You can just as easily griddle a chicken breast.  I use a lot of quinoa in my cooking. Its a complete protein, a carbohydrate and it’s gluten free. Like oats it has complex carbohydrates and essential amino acids which makes it good for training. Most importantly it’s versatile and works as a  sweet or savoury dish.

Ingredients (serves 4)

250g of left over chicken or 2 chicken breast griddled
150g quinoa
150g cherry tomatoes
25g capers
50g spring onions or shallots
1 lemon zested and juiced
1 orange, juiced
Salt and pepper
25g parsley
75g sunflower seeds
10ml Tamari (or soy sauce)

Sauce

100g natural yoghurt
100g cucumber (about a third)
Half of the lemon juice
25g mint
Salt and pepper
Tamari seeds (see TIPS)

Method

To make the yoghurt sauce  mix together the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Peel and de-seed the cucumber and cut into small squares, chop the mint and add to the yoghurt and mix together.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and put onto a baking tray covered with baking paper. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and black pepper and some olive oil. (Optional, drizzle a small amount of honey, agave, maple syrup or just a bit of sugar over the tomatoes for added sweetness).

Pour the quinoa into boiling water for 8-10 minutes, taste, it needs to be soft but with a bit of bite. Drain into a fine sieve and refresh under the cold tap. Let it drain for 5 minutes then lay out flat on a tray and cover with kitchen roll and press the excess water out of it. Roughly chop the capers and finely chop the spring onion and the parsley.

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl. Squeeze half the orange and half the lemon into the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the ingredients over to combine gently.  You don’t want to break up the tomatoes too much.

To serve, place the quinoa mix on a plate and layer on the chicken, pour on the dressing and garnish with herbs and seeds.

Warm Roasted Vegetable, Smoked Tofu & Herb Salad

Inspired by the one-dish dinners from Morocco this delicious hearty dish
is perfect as the nights draw in

Ingredients for 6 people

250g smoked tofu
200g quinoa
75g whole peeled almonds (flaked will do)
10g mint
20g coriander
2 kilos mixed root vegetables eg.beetroot, carrots, sweet potato, onions
1 red pepper
1 whole bulb of garlic
150g goats cheese
1 lemon
125ml greek yoghurt
Maldon sea salt and black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/gas mark 7.

Cook the quinoa in a pan of rolling boiling water for about 12 minutes. It is cooked when it still retains a bit of bite. Strain into a seive and run under cold water. Leave to drain. Roast the almonds in the oven until browned.

Take the largest baking tray you have, you might need two. Peel the root vegetables and cut into 4cm chunky pieces. De-seed the pepper and cut into similar size pieces. Break up the garlic bulb loose the flaky outer but don’t peel. Toss the vegetables in oil, season with salt and pepper then lay into the tray on baking paper. Make sure the vegetables are in a single layer – not piled on top of each other – this will allow them to roast not steam. Cut the tofu into similar size pieces and keep it apart for now.

Put the trays of vegetables into the oven for about 20 minutes. After ten minutes take out of the oven and gently turn the vegetables over with a fish slice. Then distribute the tofu onto the vegetables, and cook for a further 8 minutes. Use your own judgement to decide when the vegetables are ready, optimal is soft and golden slightly burnt. Take the roast vegetables out and add the tofu and crumble the goats cheese over the top. Put back in the oven for a further 5-8 minutes until the goats cheese has melted.

Meanwhile, zest the lemon and chop the herbs, do not over chop them as it will make them watery. Mix together the yoghurt with lemon juice and season. The yoghurt sauce should be pouring consistency, if not add some water.

To assemble the dish put the vegetables and tofu mix and quinoa into a large mixing bowl (preferably in one layer at a time) and then gently turn it over – everything should be evenly mixed. Season with salt and pepper, careful not to over salt.

Swirl the yoghurt from a spoon onto the vegetables etc. Hold the almonds in your hand and let them fall from the centre and to finish sprinkle the herbs and lemon zest over the top.