Quinoa Risotto with Roasted Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

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Quinoa-Risotto-with-Roasted-Asparagus-Sundried-Tomatoes-and-HerbsSometimes I think I might be a genius.

I know that may sound a little crazy, but geniuses tend to be slightly ridiculous, which only serves to support my thought process. Obviously, there’s an easy way to verify whether or not I am MENSA material (i.e. ask my parents for the results of my childhood IQ test), but I prefer to just live in a world where I “might” be one. It makes the highs and lows of day-to-day living more enjoyable.

For example:

When people question my television habits, I can respond with the fact that I need to watch a lot of “trashy” television shows like Nashville, Grey’s Anatomy, and every incarnation of Keeping up With the Kardashians to relax. My brain requires regular breaks from all the potentially genius thinking I do.

No need to worry about my terrifying level of disorganization and messiness. I’m creating, dammit! And sometimes that’s messy. I simply can’t help that I might be a mad genius.

The fact that my head is large and doesn’t fit into hats does not make me freakish. I have a large head because it’s housing my big, beautiful, maybe MENSA brain!

Nutella and Bacon Stuffed French Toast? Not just good…GENIUS.

Quinoa-Risotto-with-Roasted-Asparagus-Sun-dried-Tomatoes-and-Herbs-3See what I mean? Being a potential genius is pretty uplifting. I strongly suggest everyone adopt this mentality.

Not to worry, I haven’t gone completely off the deep end, friends. I’ve got a somewhat realistic understanding of my mental capabilities, and I’m fully aware that I’m not going to cure cancer, write the next great American novel, or accomplish any sort of technological feat in my lifetime (figuring out how to blog was challenging enough). My genius has a more culinary/hair styling slant, which I’m okay with. Afterall, that is a much more accessible form of “genius” than coding or rocket science. Everyone needs to eat. (Preferably with good hair.)

My most recent act of genius took place yesterday when I made Quinoa Risotto with Roasted Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes.

Quinoa-Risotto-with-Roasted-Asparagus-Sun-dried-Tomatoes-and-Herbs-7To be honest, I didn’t set out to make a “risotto,” I just wanted to put a fancy spin on some of the quinoa in my pantry. I started by sautéing some minced onions and garlic before adding the quinoa to the pan and toasting it for a couple minutes in the fragrant olive oil. A glug of white wine went into the mix, and then the grains were cooked in vegetable stock. Once the liquid was absorbed and the quinoa was tender, I stirred in a bright green puree of basil, parsley and garlic, along with a responsible amount of grated Parmesan. Freshly roasted asparagus and chopped sun-dried tomatoes were lovingly folded in at the last minute, and a beautiful spring dinner was served.

After taking the first bite, I was blown away by this creamy, cheesy, flavor-blasted quinoa heaven. The acidity from the sun-dried tomatoes perfectly balanced the hint of sweetness from the herbs, and the asparagus added a slight crunch. When I reflected on the cooking process and considered the flavor and texture of the final product, I realized that it reminded me of risotto. This realization was followed by a brief moment of sublime happiness where I thought, “Dear God. I JUST INVENTED QUINOA RISOTTO. I am a genius!”

A quick Google search informed me that I was not, in fact, the first to have this idea, and “Quinotto” is already a thing. Needless to say, I was disappointed. However, after some in-depth research, it appears that Bon Appétit published one of the earliest Quinoa Risotto recipes, which I found comforting. As we all know, BA editors are indisputable geniuses.

Great minds think alike.

Quinoa-Risotto-with-Roasted-Asparagus-Sun-dried-Tomatoes-and-Herbs-4Now, there are obviously a few differences between traditional risotto and this quinoa version, but I’m going to go ahead and say that I favor quinoa on pretty much all fronts. First and foremost, the cooking process of the quinoa is much less labor intensive. All of the stock gets added in one fell swoop, so you don’t have to do the incremental pour-hover-stir routine. (I appreciate this, since I find constant pouring and stirring very taxing when trying to drink wine and/or talk on the phone.) This also means that the cooking time is shorter. I’m talking 30 minutes from start-to-finish, peeps. It’s a risotto miracle.

When it comes to the nutritional values of the two grains, it’s not even a competition. Quinoa puts Arborio rice to SHAME. I don’t want to go into one of my quinoa raves (lest you think I’m some sort of fetishist at this point), but you know the drill. Not only is quinoa a complete protein that provides your body with all 9 essential amino acids, it’s also packed with fiber, iron, magnesium and tons of other fabulous vitamins and minerals. Love it.

If you’re worried about the fact that quinoa doesn’t release starches while it cooks like Arborio, don’t be. The addition of the herb puree and Parmesan cheese at the end of the cooking process makes the quinotto (such a good word) wonderfully creamy.

Serve this quinoa risotto on its own or as a side with pretty much any meat or fish, and embrace my your inner culinary genius, friends. It feels good.

Quinoa Risotto with Roasted Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes: (Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side)

½ pound asparagus spears, woody stems removed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
½ yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, 1 minced and 1 peeled
1 cup quinoa
½ cup dry white wine
2¼-2½ cups low-sodium vegetable stock, divided
½ cup fresh basil leaves, packed
½ cup fresh parsley leaves, packed
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained and chopped
Fresh Ground Pepper

Preparing your Quinoa Risotto with Roasted Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes:

-Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.

-Place the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with a little salt and fresh ground pepper, and toss to coat.

Quinoa-Risotto-with-Roasted-Asparagus-Sun-dried-Tomatoes-and-Herbs-step-1-Roast asparagus for 8-10 minutes until lightly brown and just tender. (Don’t overcook them, peeps! You want them to have a little bit of crunch.)

Quinoa-Risotto-with-Roasted-Asparagus-Sun-dried-Tomatoes-and-Herbs-step-2-When cool enough to handle, slice the spears into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

Quinoa-Risotto-with-Roasted-Asparagus-Sun-dried-Tomatoes-and-Herbs-step-8-Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan. When hot, add the minced onion and minced garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions become translucent.

Quinoa-Risotto-with-Roasted-Asparagus-Sun-dried-Tomatoes-and-Herbs-step-3-Add the quinoa to the pan and stir to coat with oil. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the grains are lightly toasted. (Make sure the heat isn’t too high or you’ll burn the quinoa, which is gross.)

Quinoa-Risotto-with-Roasted-Asparagus-Sun-dried-Tomatoes-and-Herbs-step-4-Add the white wine to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Quinoa-Risotto-with-Roasted-Asparagus-Sun-dried-Tomatoes-and-Herbs-step-5-Add 1¾ cups vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat until the liquid is just simmering, cover, and cook for 13-15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed.

Quinoa-Risotto-with-Roasted-Asparagus-Sun-dried-Tomatoes-and-Herbs-step-6-While the quinoa is cooking, you’re going to make an herb puree. Place the basil, parsley, 1 peeled garlic clove and ½ cup vegetable stock in a blender or food processor.

Quinoa-Risotto-with-Roasted-Asparagus-Sun-dried-Tomatoes-and-Herbs-step-10-Puree until smooth.

Quinoa-Risotto-with-Roasted-Asparagus-Sun-dried-Tomatoes-and-Herbs-step-11-Stir the herb puree and Parmesan cheese into the cooked quinoa. (If the mixture is too thick, you may want to add another ¼ cup of vegetable stock.)

Quinoa-Risotto-with-Roasted-Asparagus-Sun-dried-Tomatoes-and-Herbs-step-7-Add the roasted asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes and cook for 1 minute until heated through. Taste and season with a little salt and fresh ground pepper.

Quinoa-Risotto-with-Roasted-Asparagus-Sun-dried-Tomatoes-and-Herbs-step-9-Serve immediately, and feel free to get some extra Parmesan involved.


I’m thrilled to be a part of Food Network’s Sensational Sides event this week. For more fabulous “cheesy” recipes,  check out the blogs below.

Weelicious: Mexican Rice Balls
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Cheesy Cheddar Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes
Feed Me Phoebe: Sausage, Pepper and Onion Frittata
Cooking With Elise: Parmesan Noodle Bake
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Grilled Cheese with Spicy Pickles, Pepper Jack and Garlic Aioli
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cheese and Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas
Red or Green: Cheddar Cheese and Red Chile Potato Soup
Virtually Homemade: Grilled Asparagus with Tomato Salad and Goat Cheese
The Sensitive Epicure: Easy Cheesy Puffs (Gluten-Free)
Dishin & Dishes: Baked Herbed Ricotta Spread
Taste With The Eyes: Shrimp, Haricots Verts and Garbanzo Beans with Feta
FN Dish: Cheesy Brunch Sides

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  1. MichelleK on October 17, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    I’ve heard that unwashed quinoa is very bitter, but it doesn’t look like you washed it here before frying it?

    • Serena_Wolf on October 17, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      Hi Michelle- Yes, you definitely need to rinse the quinoa first. Sorry for failing to point that out (I always just buy pre-washed quinoa because I’m lazy)! I’ll make a note in the recipe.

  2. CChi on July 1, 2014 at 12:00 am

    I took this to a new mama as a gift. It’s such a perfect combination of comfort & nutrition. She loved it!

    • Serena_Wolf on July 1, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      Such a good idea for a present, and I’m so happy it was a success!

  3. DK on June 18, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Just came across your blog yesterday (asked about the quinoa bake) and it’s very inspiring! Made this tonight and it’s fantastic. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Serena_Wolf on June 19, 2014 at 2:55 pm

      Thank you so much! Thrilled that you found the blog, and even happier to hear this quinoa was such a success.

  4. Leila @ The Belgian Beet on June 3, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    That looks great! Once I made quinotto a bit by accident; I added watery veggies with the regular amount of water. I cooked longer so the extra water would be absorbed and it became risotto-like 🙂 I’d still put the herb purree, to make it extra nice

    • Serena_Wolf on June 4, 2014 at 8:50 am

      Thanks, Leila! Your accidental quinotto must have been such a lovely surprise! Definitely try the herb puree next time, it really brightens everything up.

  5. Rachel on May 18, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Excellently delicious! Served this tonight with some grilled fish and Husband and I both loved it. So fresh and bursting with flavor. Thanks!

    • Serena_Wolf on May 20, 2014 at 9:39 am

      YES! So glad to hear this, Rachel!

  6. paigecorbin on May 11, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Amazing per usual. Just had this for dinner and can’t wait to have some leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

    • Serena_Wolf on May 12, 2014 at 9:39 am

      LOVE. You are the first to report back, and I’m thrilled to hear it was a success! xo

  7. Dixya Bhattarai RD on May 8, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    this is pretty genius. i love that green sauce.

    • Serena_Wolf on May 8, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      Haha, thank you, Dixya! You must get involved in this.

  8. dishinanddishes on May 8, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    This looks delicious! I love quinoa and am growing it in my garden this year (First try). I have been seeing chefs and magazines posting a lot of recipes for “grain” risottos like qunoa and barley. I am going to try this!

    • Serena_Wolf on May 8, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      Thank you, Katie! I can’t believe you’re growing your own quinoa (so awesome). I’ve made a lot of faro and barley risottos, which are great, but this was my first time with quinoa. Hope you love it as much as I do!

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