Sunday, August 30, 2009

Recipe: Creamy Shrimp & Asparagus Quinoa Risotto

Like most of us I have my fair share of fears, some logical, some totally ridiculous. Up until recently, one of my truly ridiculous fears has been that of risotto. Not eating it, of course, but making it. For some reason the whole process of adding little bits of this and waiting for that seemed like it could be something I might mess up, so I just avoided the whole thing entirely. But I’m also the type who likes to face some fears head on, so I made up my mind to just suck it up and cook.

As most of you who have been making risotto for years with no problems know, there was really nothing to be afraid of. About the only tricky part to making this creamy dish is exercising a bit of patience to allow everything to simmer and absorb properly. Other than that this is a piece of cake to make, and once I got over this irrational kitchen fear, I set about making risotto out of everything, not just rice. My current favorite is quinoa risotto, probably due to the distinctly different texture of the quinoa, as opposed to rice or farro. Though using farro also results in a lovely risotto, I really like the combination of flavors and textures that are in this particular dish. The tender asparagus go beautifully with the sweetness of the shrimp and the light sprinkling of parmesan, and the creamy quinoa brings it all together. I used olive oil as opposed to butter to cut back on the bad fat for this dish, though I’m sure it will be delicious if butter is used. This is a wonderful entrĂ©e or a hearty side and can definitely be served year round.

A few notes for you: If you don’t have wine around the house, simply substitute an extra 1/2 cup of broth. Speaking of broth, this is even more flavorful if you use fresh shrimp, as you can boil them in the broth before making the risotto. However, if all you have at home are the frozen cooked shrimp do not go out and buy extra! Save your money! This is just as flavorful without using shrimp broth. If you buy your quinoa in bulk the price of this dish goes way down, and if you can’t find any fresh asparagus that are affordable enough, by all means use frozen ones. And now for the recipe.

Creamy Shrimp & Asparagus Quinoa Risotto (serves 6; total cost per serving: $1.35)

1 c uncooked quinoa
5 c chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 c white wine
2 ½ T olive oil (or butter, if you prefer)
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
30-35 large frozen cooked shrimp, thawed
6 medium asparagus, cut into 3/4” long pieces
1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 t dried tarragon
1/4 t dried thyme
Salt & pepper to taste

Carefully rinse the quinoa about 3 times to ensure that it is completely clean and drain well. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook slowly until the onion begins to soften.

Increase the heat to about medium high and add the rinsed quinoa. Cook for about 3 minutes then add the wine and simmer until the quinoa absorbs the wine. Slowly pour about 1/2 cup of chicken broth into the quinoa and allow to simmer until it is completely absorbed by the quinoa, stirring frequently. Continue this process, pouring in the broth only 1/2 cup at a time, until the quinoa is creamy and the quinoa germs have burst (you may have extra broth left over; if so, set aside for a different meal), about 20 minutes.

While the last bit of broth is being simmered and absorbed, add the ¼ c of parmesan cheese and continue to stir well. Add the shrimp and asparagus and mix in gently, cooking for another 3-4 minutes. Season with tarragon, thyme, and a couple dashes of salt & pepper. Serve with extra parmesan sprinkle on top of you like, and enjoy!


  1. I commented once before that I'd never tried quinoa. I finally got to sample some this weekend. We ate at the Whole Foods in Kansas City. One of their salad bar items was a garlic quinoa with spinach onions and red peppers. It was W O N D E R F U L. Glad you talked me into it.

  2. Thank you for this recipe! I've been trying to figure out some new recipes with quinoa...I would really prefer cooking with it than cous cous or rice because of the health benefits, I just found it to be a bit bland, but this recipe looks super delicious!

  3. Gretchen Weiners9/01/2009 09:42:00 AM

    This looks delicious! I've never made any sort of risotto before (it's intimidating!), but I may have to try this. My mouth is watering just looking at it!

  4. This is delicious!! I'm eating it as i write. I didn't have asparagus so i threw in some fresh spinach in at the last minute. And I used red quinoa instead of white just because I like it better... I didn't exactly get the risotto texture but then again i forgot to stir in between broth additions :S

    It's still REALLY tasty! Never had quinoa cooked in anything other than water so this was a wonderful change. THANK YOU for this great recipe!

  5. This is the first of your recipes I have tried and it is WONDERFUL. I have an abundance of quinoa in several containers in my pantry; I need ideas on what to do with it. I made this recipe tonight (11/12/09) but cut it in half to make sure I liked it. Good thing because I polished it off. Next time I will have enough white wine and tarragon to make it properly.

  6. Hi Kimberly,

    I've commented on this before, but I've made this at least 5 times now and thise time, I used parmesan but also some blue brie (left over from a party, i froze about 4 ounces of it, grated it and used half in this recipe, the other half in a soup) and it is just AMAZING.

    Also, I used frozen raw shrimp+scallops. Once thawed, I added at the second to last broth addition with the asparagus.

    This has to be my favorite recipe on your blog, and I've tried quite a few!

    Keep up the good work! I really hope that things start looking up for you. Take care!

  7. I didn't have shrimp, but I had chicken, so I used that. Still DELICIOUS!

  8. Do you really have to rinse the quinoa? I don't rinse mine, but I heard people say that it is bitter or something if you don't rinse it well. I just dump it in (straight out of the paper bag from the bulk bins at WF), and it always tastes good. Hmmmmm ...

  9. We're actually discussing this on Facebook right now! :) I highly recommend rinsing it no matter what. To some folks it might not seem as bitter as it does to others, but the general consensus is that it is pretty bitter. But if you're okay with the flavor as is, just keep doing what you're doing! :)

  10. OMG this was amazing!!! I just started getting into quinoa, and I had no idea it could taste this good! I was skeptical because of the texture of quinoa, but it came out so creamy and delicious, just like risotto. This is definitely a keeper--thanks for sharing!!

  11. I've had a box of quinoa on my shelf for months. I decided to use this recipe as a spring board since I was looking for a yummy recipe that I had all the ingredients on hand for. I made it without the meat. In another pan I sauteed mushrooms, then added some of the broth and used it to steam frozen asparagus and frozen greens while the quizotto finished. I added the veggies at the end when it called for the shrimp, mixed in the cheese and herbs and WOW is it ever tasty! Thank you for the inspiration!



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