Monday, 8 April 2013

Quinoa & Amaranth
Asparagus & Pesto
Risotto for me is a comfort food.
Especially so, in the cold months.
It's hard to resist eating it while waiting for it to cool down as you watch the steam rising from the pot.
I always have stock on hand for the winter months so, it gives me alot of leeway to choose what delish dish I want to create using it.
Today I decided to make a lower carb side. Quinoa and Amaranth are ancients grains.
Really grasses, these are the seeds of the grass.
They are very high in protein and are a whole grain.
Quinoa explodes when cooked and you can actually see the "bran" part of it, which is the outer part if you look close.
Amaranth has such a nice crunch under your tooth. Both have an earthy taste and are easily substituted for anything you would do with rice.
The cooking time is also the same.
Because they have little starch they don't swell and soak up liquid like rice and pasta.
Turning it off just before it is cooked allows the grains to continue cooking absorbing the rest of the liquid in the pot.
You then would fluff it with a fork just like rice.
Today I decided to make an aromatic risotto using asparagus and pesto cubes.
These are the cubes that I process and freeze in the fall so that they are ready whenever I need to add it to a dish!
These grains are versatile, extremely high in nutrition and are gluten free!
1 cup of rinsed quinoa
1/2 cup amaranth
3 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 small onion, peeled and minced
8 stalks of asparagus, washed, ends snapped, diced
1 tbsp of pesto or 2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
salt & pepper to taste.
1/2 cup Parmesan + more for sprinkling
Drizzle 2 tbsp of EVOO into a preheated medium sized saucepan. Drop in onion and cook until translucent stirring occasionally on medium heat.  Tip in asparagus and cook for 3-5 min. Then remove the asparagus with a tong and set aside.
Add grains and stir to coat.  Ladle in 1 cup of liquid at a time into the mixture, until liquid is needed as the grains expand and soak up the liquid. Stir regularly to create a creamy texture and to prevent the risotto from sticking.
Five minutes before the risotto is ready add the pesto, cooked asparagus and cheese. Stir to incorporate. Taste and adjust for seasonings Turn off the heat and allow the ingredients to blend.
Spoon into plates and sprinkle on more cheese.
Enjoy with love!

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