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Mushroom Quinotto with Roasted Vegetables

By April 10, 2013January 7th, 2023Cuisine, Uncategorized

Quinoa has been on my mind for two reasons lately. 


The first, as I’ve written about here, is that HRH, (my “Handsome Russian Husband”) decided we should go on Orthodox Lent, thereby cutting out meat, fish, dairy, oils, and alcohol.   His mother tried to convince me it isn’t about the food, but if you’d spent the week trying to come up with creative ways to use avocado and applesauce where any right-thinking person would use cream, eggs, and olive oil, you could be forgiven for focusing a bit on the food side of things.

I decided to take my need to beef up (no pun intended, but God I could murder a burger) the grain side of my repertoire to some of you loyal readers.   So, we’ve had a few quinoa classes over at LavkaLavka’s gastro studio, and I think we’ve all become converts!

What is Quinoa?

Packed with more protein and minerals than almost all other foods, quinoa (pronounced “keen-woh”) is an ancient grass, and its seeds were a primary food group in the diet of the ancient Mayans and Azetcs.  Quinoa has an impressive 6,000 year history and today, quinoa is enjoying a roaring return to popularity amongst foodies on at least four continents.  It’s a staple of healthy living and vegetarian lifestyles, as it is wheat and gluten free.

How to Cook Quinoa:

The best way to cook quinoa is to rinse the grains in a sieve, then add 1 1/4-cup of water for each 1 cup of quinoa.  Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently until all the liquid is absorbed.  Use a fork to fluff it up.  You will find that the yield for quinoa is 3 cups of cooked quinoa for one cup of uncooked quinoa.  You can keep quinoa in this state for about 4-6 days in a covered container in the fridge.  Add it to vegetable soups or to bulk up a salad.

Recipe for Quinoa:

We’ve talked about this before on the Moscovore: quinoa is seriously bland.  One of our participants described it as “eating cardboard,” which is a fairly accurate portrayal of what just plain quinoa tastes like.  The trick is to infuse it with flavor, as we’ve done before with Orange Sesame Quinoa with Dried Cherries.   I wanted to create a reliable side dish that could stand up on its own for the vegan crowd, but also pair nicely with a chicken, pork or beef.  The obvious choice was what the foodie world is now calling “quinotto,” fusing the idea of risotto with quinoa.

To be honest, there’s not much “otto” about quinotto.  I tried it several ways before I hit the right method.  Adding a little bit of liquid at a time to the grain produced a mushy sticky substance, so instead, I cooked the quinoa and then added it to sautéed onions and mushrooms, and then added more liquid, and finished it with a little cream and some parmesan.   Gone was the cardboard taste!

To add color, texture, and flavor to the quinotto, as well as making it into a one-meal dish, I topped the quinotto with roasted eggplant, peppers, and zucchini. The danger here is that the vegetables can get soggy and float away on a lake of their own juices.  To prevent this, I seeded and cored the eggplant, then salted the  and let it “leech” its bitter juices.   I cored the center of the zucchini where a lot of the water is stored, but I reserved this for the stock bag or Green Soup.  I added peppers for color and crunch, roasted the vegetables, then topped the entire thing with fresh tomatoes and basil.

eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes

Prevent vegetables from becoming soggy by removing their core and flash roasting them

The result is a hearty and healthy dish that pairs well with most meat, and can stand stalwartly alone as a one-meal dish!  So, give it a try!

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Mushroom Quinotto with Roasted Vegetables


  • 500 ml (2 cups) of quinoa, rinsed
  • 100 gm (4 oz) of dried mushrooms*
  • 125 ml (½- cup) of Madiera or Marsala wine
  • 45 ml (3 Tbl) of olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 large zucchinis
  • 2 large eggplants
  • 2 red peppers
  • 700 ml (3 cups) of cherry tomatoes
  • 15 ml (1 Tbl) of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large handful of basil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, mashed and chopped finely with 1 tsp of table salt
  • Sea Salt and fresh pepper

*You can use fresh, sautéed mushrooms for this dish if you prefer.


Prepare the Vegetables

  • Preheat the oven to 375F or 190C.  If your oven has a “roast” function, this is the option you should choose
  • Place the dried mushrooms in a shallow, non-reactive bowl.  Add the wine and top up with boiling water until the mushrooms are completely covered.  Use the back of a wooden spoon to force the mushrooms under the liquid.  Cover and set aside for 45 minutes.
  • Top and tail the eggplant, then cut it into thin strips, removing all of the pulpy, seeded inner part of the eggplant.  Slice the eggplant strips into ½- inch cubes.  Toss with 1 tsp of table salt, then place in a colander and prop up at a slant over a mixing bowl.  Leave the eggplant to “sweat” for at least 1 hour.
  • Top and tail the zucchini as you did the eggplant, removing the softer inner core and retaining for use in pureed soup or smoothie.  Toss with 1 tsp of oil, 1 tsp of sea salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Spread on a shallow baking dish covered with parchment paper.
  • Core and cube the red pepper and dice into small ½-inch cubes.  Toss with 1 tsp of olive oil and spread on the baking dish with the zucchini.
  • When it has finished sweating, pat the eggplant dry with paper towel, then toss with 1 tsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Arrange the eggplant in the shallow baking dish with the zucchini and peppers, and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.   Stir a few times during roasting to ensure the vegetables cook evenly.  Set aside.

Prepare the Quinotto

  • Use a slotted spoon to remove the mushrooms from the water/wine mix, reserving the liquid.  Pat dry with paper towels, then chop roughly.  Por the reserved liquid through a clean cloth to eliminate the grit from the mushrooms, then pour into a measuring cup.  Top the liquid up with hot water, vegetable or chicken stock until you have 1-1/2 cups.
  • Rinse the quinoa in cold water.  Place in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven with 2-1/2 cups of cold water and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, until the water is completely absorbed.  Remove the lid and let sit until the quinoa comes to room temperature.  Fork to separate.
  • Heat 1 Tbl of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch Oven.  Sweat the onions until they are translucent.  Add the quinoa and toss to combine.
  • Reduce heat and begin to add the mushroom/stock combination, allowing the quinoa to absorb the liquid.  When the quinoa has absorbed as much liquid as possible, fold in the chopped mushrooms.   Remove to a warm oven while you finish the roasted vegetables.

Finishing the Dish:

  • Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a shallow skillet.  Add the chopped garlic and sauté until it turns golden.  Add the roasted vegetables and toss until the vegetables are warmed through.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove to a warm oven.
  • Chop the cherry tomatoes into quarters and place in a non-reactive mixing bowl.  Add the lemon juice and the remaining olive oil and toss with a pinch of sea salt and freshly-ground pepper.  Shred the basil leaves and toss to combine.
  • Assemble the dish for immediate serving, either heaped in layers in one large serving dish, or stacked in individual portions.

Readers, what is your favorite way to serve quinoa?  Have you tried Quinotto?

For more quinoa recipes here on the Moscovore, try:

Orange Sesame Quinoa Salad with Dried Cherries

Lemon Garlic Quinoa with Fresh Asparagus

For more great quinoa recipes from around the web, try some of these:

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