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Multigrain asparagus risotto

Posted Apr 04 2011 8:43am

I promise no ranting and raving today.  Last week sent the celiac community reeling.  I wrote my un-censored reaction to the Dr. Oz segment, but there were a couple of other highly publicized incidents, both seemingly stemming from a heavy dose of ignorance and a good swallow of intolerance.  In reaction to these events, Karina, our very own gluten free goddess , invited all of us to strap on our helmets and move forward. 

I am going to do just that.  I think we all have a right to be baffled, frustrated, ticked, scared, or [fill in whatever you are feeling here].  I think we all have a right to work towards greater understanding, to correct people when they misspeak about what eating gluten free is all about.  And, I think we certainly have our work cut out for us, as we are living in a country (and dare I say an industrialized world) obsessed with food and weight and fad diets.  But, today I am simply grateful to be a part of this supportive community, looking out for one another; sharing information, stories, and words of support.
So, no flowery speeches from me today.  Nope, today I offer you a simple recipe. 
One that even Dr. Oz would have to admit is ‘healthy.’ (wink)
Multi-grain asparagus risotto
If you have never made risotto before, don’t be afraid of it.  Once you try it, you will never look back; it is a forever modifiable dish.  Risotto is traditionally made with a high-starch Italian rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli, but adding quinoa to the dish adds additional flavor, texture, fiber, and protein.  All good things in my book!  The basic idea is to sauté the grains a little bit prior to adding the broth, to begin the cooking process.  Once you add the broth (one ladle-full at a time) you never stop stirring until you run out of broth.  It certainly requires some time attached to the stove, but it’s well worth it.
¾ cup Arborio rice½ cup quinoa1 bunch asparagus, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces, about 1 ½ inches1 small onion, diced2 cloves garlic, minced1 ½ cups sliced baby bella mushrooms6 oz fresh baby spinach4 cups chicken broth¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)1 tsp dried thymeFreshly grated pepper to tasteOlive oilKalamata olives (for garnish)
Pour chicken broth into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. 
In a large dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your pan.  Add onions and garlic, sauté until onions begin to soften.  Add thyme and some grated pepper.  Add asparagus and mushrooms and continue to stir.  Once asparagus begin to turn bright green, add quinoa and Arborio rice, and sauté until rice looks translucent around the edges.
Add a ladle-full of broth to the asparagus mixture.  Stir until all broth is absorbed.  Add another ladle-full of broth.  Continue to stir constantly and adding ladles of broth until almost all of the broth is used. 
When add the last ladle-full of broth remaining in the saucepan, add the spinach to the risotto.   When all of the broth is absorbed, remove from heat and stir in the cheese.  Cover the stockpot and let rest for at least 15 minutes.  Taste and add more pepper, if necessary.
Serve with additional Parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil, and a couple of kalamata olives. 
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