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Quinoa Risotto with Winter Squash & Sweet Potato

February 2022
Chefs Walter Edward and Forrest Brunton put a healthier spin on this hearty Italian dish, replacing arborio rice with high-protein quinoa and incorporating seasonal produce from their farm in Colleton County
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For the quinoa risotto:

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Season with salt and stir in the quinoa. Simmer, covered for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and let sit, covered, for another 20 minutes. Cool until ready to finish the dish. (This can be prepared and refrigerated a day ahead.)

For the winter squash puree:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

Halve the squash top to bottom and scoop out seeds and pulp. Coat halves with olive oil, season with salt, and place cut side down on a baking sheet covered with foil. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until soft. (Poke it with a paring knife to check doneness.)

Let squash cool to room temperature. Once cooled, scoop out the flesh and blend in a blender on highest setting until very smooth. (Note: add a little water if it isn’t spinning; you may have to blend in batches.) Measure out two cups of puree and reserve any extra for another use.

For the pickled peppers:

Slice chiles into thin rings with a knife or a mandolin. Place in a heat-proof bowl, season with salt, and let sit for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine vinegar, sugar, water, and pickling spice in a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn off the heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain pickling liquid onto chiles. Allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate for at least three hours, or preferably overnight.

For the winter squash & sweet potatoes:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Blanch diced squash until just tender and remove from water with a slotted spoon. Set on a baking sheet or large plate, drizzle with olive oil, and place in the refrigerator to cool. Repeat the process with sweet potatoes. 

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then garlic and shallots. Stir for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the cooked quinoa (about four cups), squash puree (two cups), and about 3/4 each of the diced squash and sweet potatoes. Place the remaining dice in a low oven to warm gently. 

Stir the mixture and add a little water as needed (it should be the texture of a thin oatmeal). Heat over high heat until bubbly and hot. Add butter and stir in to emulsify. Add the lime juice and season to taste. Turn off the heat, and stir in diced cheese.

Immediately pour the mixture onto a large serving platter. (It should spread out on its own somewhat without being too runny.) Top with the crumbled cheese, then the chopped herbs. Sprinkle with some of the reserved diced pumpkin and sweet potatoes, the pickled chiles, and a few marigold flowers.

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