Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oyster Mushroom Quinotto

Late last night I was catching up on my food reading and came across this video at chow dot com about quinotto. My immediate reaction was “oh, something new”. While they didn’t give a recipe I thought how hard could this be?

As an Italian I love, love, love risotto. I was always very picky about my risotto. Instead of arborio I always used carnaroli rice because the texture was better. While I also make barley in the risotto style, and brown rice risotto, the idea of quinoa risotto was too appealing to pass up.

Once I got the kitchen cleaned up from breakfast I started making mushroom broth. Whenever we buy organic shitake mushrooms I always save the stems in a zip top bag in the freezer to make stock later. I had to quart bag full of stems and added them to water to simmer for an hour to make the stock. I also added about a cup of leek trimmings, a few garlic cloves, two bay leaves and a dozen whole peppercorns so the broth would have a more complex flavor. Strain this mixture through a very fine wire strainer or one lined with cheese cloth or damp paper towel. Now you have the cooking liquid for the quinotto. Keep this liquid warm in a separate pot on the stove.

Here is the remainder of the recipe:

Oyster Mushroom Quinotto
Makes 6 big servings


2 cups quinoa
1 leek, white and light green portion finely sliced and soaked to remove grit
7 cups mushroom stock (technique described above) add water if you don’t have enough stock
¼ pound fresh mushrooms (I used oyster mushrooms torn into shreds)
1 tablespoon no salt seasoning
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup walnuts, soaked 30 minutes to reduce tannins and soften
1 cup water
sea salt and black pepper to taste


Combine the walnuts and enough water to soak while you make the quinoa and set them aside.

Add the quinoa to a dry pan and toast for a few minutes to develop a somewhat “nutty” flavor. Now add the leeks and a ladle of hot mushroom stock and cook while stirring. Add the no salt seasoning and thyme and continue to cook until the water is mostly absorbed. Continue to add mushroom stock a ladle at the time until you have added the seven cups of liquid. Put the lid on the pan and turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes so the liquid will all be absorbed.

While the quinoa is continuing to cook drain the walnuts of the soaking liquid and place the walnuts in your blender. Add 1 cup of water to the blender and process until the entire mixture is smooth. Stir the walnut mixture into the quinoa so that it gets evenly distributed. The walnut mixture is needed to achieve a quinoa risotto with a creamy texture. Without the walnut mixture the dish is just quinoa it does not give up any starch during the cooking and stirring process like rice or barley does. Taste for seasonings and adjust before serving or refrigerating.

To serve, top the quinotto with fresh herbs, sun dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes and/or a dollop of cashew crème fraiche.

Nutritional information (without optional garnish):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 349.91
Calories From Fat (40%) - 138.38

Total Fat - 16.28g
Saturated Fat - 1.62g
Cholesterol-  0mg
Sodium - 16.74mg
Potassium - 496.89mg
Total Carbohydrates - 41.9g
Fiber - 5.82g
Sugar - 1.4g
Protein - 11.8g


I was really hoping this would work and get creamy without fat like rice or barley but no luck. Needless to say I was a tad disappointed with the lack of creaminess. However I knew I could rectify the problem with walnut cream and it worked perfectly. I chose walnuts because the taste works so well with mushrooms. The end result is very tasty but has more fat than I had anticipated. However this dish is good enough that it will show up again when I have planned for it in our fat budget. I had to get the quinotto into the refrigerator after it was finished cooking before I nibbled away at far too much of it. It is creamy and very tasty. ;-)

Being a grain based dish this is not a powerhouse of nutrition. Each serving contains approximately 270IU of vitamin A, 2mg of vitamin C, 69mg of calcium, 3.8mg of iron, 1.7mg of vitamin E, 0.4mg of vitamin B6, 136mg of folate, 348mg of phosphorus, 152mg of magnesium, and 7.7mcg of selenium. Those low numbers are not typos. This is a good example of why we focus more on veggies and fruit and less on grains.

Unrelated notes:

To increase the nutrition of dinner we had our quinotto with a green salad on the side that contained curried hummus. The salad added vitamins and minerals as well as protein from the beans.

Today has been another one of those gray bleary days. Nothing terrible just enough gray weather to make a blah day overall. However, I am not complaining. Generally things at our house are going fairly well. In the past I have found it too easy to get down or depressed. I think age makes it easier for me to put things into perspective. At least that is my story and I am sticking to it. I am very thankful to be married to my best friend and love him just as much, if not more, than I did decades ago.

Tomorrow is supposed to be another gray rainy day. I am planning to take advantage of the weather to spend more time cooking, I still to make those seitan sausages that my hubby loves.

I hope you all had a wonderful Tuesday. I will chat with you again soon.


  1. Interesting recipe. So did you end up liking it? I have red quinoa and vegetable stock. Would that work as a substitute? Probably huh.

  2. This is a healthy dish.. looks yumm.

  3. What a great idea! I love quinoa and mushrooms, this looks so good!

  4. Carissa,

    It is very tasty. Not what I expected but with the added fat from the nuts very good. I don't see any reason why red quinoa and veg stock wouldn't work. If you aren't going to be using mushrooms make another nut cream. Raw cashews would be a neutral base for any other veggies you want to add.


  5. RV,

    Thanks, it worked out well in the end. It definitely needs the fat from the the nut cream to get the consistency right. But it was addictively good by the time it was finished. ;-)


  6. Janet,

    Thanks! :-) I was in the mood for a comfort dish last night and this worked perfectly. It does need the nut cream to achieve that typical creamy risotto texture.


  7. Very interesting idea. I have only ever made a barley risotto. Oh, would the stems from portobellos work as well - freezing for later use? I always want to save them, but didn't think about freezing. At least gray days are conducive to kitchen time!!!

  8. Heather,

    I would think portobello stems would work too. I have has saved cremini stems when I only needed the caps and added them to the "mushroom stem bag" in the freezer. You can always make mushrooms stock from the liquid you use to soak dried mushrooms.

    Gray days are good for cooking and reading. Both are on my agenda today. ;-) I definitey prefer sunny days.

    talk to you later,


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