Quinoa risotto

Yes, this is recipe number 2 on this blog using quinoa, but what can I say? It's brilliant. I was resistant to it for years, dismissing it as the preserve of hippies and weirdos with food intolerances. But, in fact, it's an impeccable rice/pasta replacement if you're craving a stodge-fest but don't want to either fall asleep after lunch or GET FAT.

This recipe was inspired by a cookbook that arrived at my house that at first, I'm ashamed to say, made me laugh out loud. It's called Cuisinier Gascon, by Pascal Aussignac, the head chef at Club Gascon Group, a very smart sort of chain of Gascon-inspired restaurants in London.

It made me laugh out loud for its unimaginable complexity. It's all beautiful and gorgeous, no doubt, but the idea that I would make a Cappucino of Black Pudding with Lobster and Asparagus or a Carpaccio of Foie Gras with Figs and Walnut made me snigger. Not that, I must hastily add, this book was intended for me - it's recipient was supposed to be Giles, but little do people know that I intercept all of Giles' post, stack up the press releases, burn the hatemail after passing names and address onto the police, put all the knickers in the bin, give Giles the fanmail to read over breakfast and appropriate all the cookbooks.

I was about to dismiss the book as too silly to be useful when I suddenly sobered up and realised how damn lucky I am that I live in a house where top chefs send in signed copies of their books, even though they're not meant for me.

So I sat down with Cuisinier Gascon and read it from cover to cover and it's brilliant; I will make one of its more complicated recipes soon as a penance, but for now, I made today for lunch a quinoa risotto, inspired by a seafood quinoa risotto I found in the book.

It serves 2 and goes something like this:

80g quinoa

300ml stock

1/2 stick of celery

2 shallots

a few snippets of lemon zest






1 Chop up the shallots, garlic and celery and saute gently for about 8 mins in 1 tbsp groundnut oil and a generous lump of butter.

2 Add the quinoa and fry off for about 3 mins

3 pour in all the stock and leave to bubble gently for about ten minutes, giving it the occasional stir. The quinoa ought to absorb all the liquid, after about 15 minutes. You can add more if the quinoa is too al dente for you. The quinoa basically behaves like risotto rice so if you've made a risotto, it'll all be pretty familiar. The bonus is it takes much less long to cook than risotto rice.

4 When the quinoa is cooked, add another knob of butter, salt and pepper, lemon zest, a handful of parmesan and a couple of thick rounds of chorizo, chopped up, Stir to combine and then turn out onto hot plates - sprinkle over more parmesan and the parsley.

I served this with a sprig of roasted cherry tomatoes, which worked really well - to roast baby tomatoes just put in the oven for about a hour at 180 C.

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