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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Butternut Quinoa Risotto

Oh come on does this really need an introduction?  Roasted butternut squash naturally sweet and creamy with a rich texture that melts in your mouth paired with fresh sage, some chopped some crisped and stirred into a delicious risotto made of quinoa and random other grains, topped with it's own roasted probably the Original American Dream.  Well, maybe not the OG one, but the fusion of 2 items naturally perfect; continental American vegetables and grains with an Italian cooking method can't be anything other than a dream...until it comes true.
Serves 5-6
2 cups quinoa + whatever other grains you want, rinsed
1 butternut squash, peeled, cubed, and seeded (keep those precious seeds)
1 diced onion
1 handful chopped sage + a few whole leaves
1 handful shredded swiss
1 handful grated parmesan
1/4 cup heavy cream
liberal sprinkle chili powder
liberal sprinkle turmeric
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
plenty of cracks of fresh pepper
around 4-5 cups broth (I used chicken but keep it all veg if you want)
Some EVOO for tossing
1 Tbsp butter + some more EVOO for cooking
1.  Toss the cubed butternut with some EVOO, chili powder, nutmeg, turmeric, and some salt.  Bake for 30 minutes at 375°F (190°C).  It should be nicely colored.  When it is done, toast its seeds for 10 minutes.
2.  While this is going on, you can make the crispy sage by heating the butter and a drizzle of EVOO and frying the whole sage leaves about 15 seconds on each side.  Remove and reserve on a paper towel.
3.  In that same butter-oil, sautée the onions until golden.  Add the cayenne pepper and quinoa mixture and stir around until each grain has had a little dose of heat.  I hope you numbered them to keep track of who is who.
4.  As you would with a risotto, add a ladle of broth at a time on low heat until it is absorbed by the quinoa.  Do this until the quinoa is bite tender or almost to your liking.
5.  Stir in the roasted butternut, chopped sage, and the cream.  Taste and add some pepper.  Taste again and adjust the seasoning/liquid if needed.
6.  Stir in the cheeses until melted.

Serve with some crispy sage and roasted seeds on top.

While you savor each bite, close your eyes and concentrate on the different textures enjoying their short lives in harmony in your mouth.  The crack and perfume of the fried sage, the crunch of the roasted seeds, the creaminess of the butternut, the pearly softness of the quinoa, the depth of the spices married (or in civil union with) the cream and the bite of the parmesan...dinner is served in a different dimension tonight.

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