Quinoa Risotto With Dried Cranberries and Pecans
- Servings: Serves 4 to 6 as a side and 3 to 4 as a main dish.
This recipe is adapted from one by Molly O'Neill that appeared in The New York Times Magazine about a dozen years ago. In her original version she made it with dried cherries and served it with thin slices of pan-cooked boneless duck breasts.
While this risotto is wonderful when paired with duck, it's equally flavorful with chicken (a shredded rotisserie chicken would work well), thin slices of flank steak, or as the main course itself since quinoa is a protein-rich grain with a nutty taste that is satisfying on its own.
Dried cherries are not always easy to find and can be costly, so I have substituted dried cranberries, which have a similar sweet and tangy flavor. This recipe uses the same cooking method as when making a classic risotto with Arborio rice, adding one ladle of hot stock at a time and stirring until it becomes absorbed; this lets you cook the quinoa until the texture is exactly as you like it, avoiding it from becoming too soft.
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- Juice of 1 orange (about 1/4 cup)
- Grated zest of 1 washed orange (about 2 heaping teaspoons); grate only the orange and not the white pith which is bitter
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and well drained
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
- Place the stock in a saucepan and heat it, keeping it just below a simmer.
- Combine the cranberries, orange juice and orange zest and set aside.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes until the onion softens and becomes translucent but not take on any color. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring, until any moisture cooks off and the grains of quinoa become lightly toasted, 4 to 5 more minutes.
- Add the hot stock 1 cup at a time, stirring gently but constantly and allowing the liquid to be absorbed completely before adding more stock, a cup at a time, stirring after each addition. After you have added 3 cups of stock, add the cherries and orange mixture and an additional 1/2-cup of stock. Cook until the liquid has been absorbed. Test the quinoa for doneness (it should be just slightly crunchy but tender); if it is too tough, add more stock, a 1/2-cup at a time, and continue to cook until it is done. If you use up all the hot stock and still need a little more liquid, use hot water.
- Remove the risotto from heat and stir in the remaining tablespoon butter and the pecans. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately.