Risotto-Style Beet Quinoa


It’s been a while since I’ve posted because I’ve been on vacation. Yeah. Vacation. Not to some sandy-beached destination but instead to my hometown of Milwaukee, Wis. Or thereabouts, anyway. (I will tell you that from where I write this post I can hear cows mooing.)

The only reason I’m even able to blog between all the eating out I’m doing and my Frozen Custard Tour of Southeastern Wisconsin (a different flavor and location each day of my trip) is because on the day I arrived my grandma gifted me with a bunch of beets from her garden. Knowing I was having a sleepover with my high school friends this weekend, I decided to use the beets as my contribution to dinner the evening of the sleepover. Specifically, I intended to make risotto style quinoa soaked in beet puree. Sounds doable, right? I thought so.

I found a recipe at a website I am opting not to repeat because I thought the recipe was very unrisotto-like even though the website touted a quinoa risotto. Uh. No. Quinoa cooked in water like normal? Yes. Risotto-style quinoa slowly cooked in small portions of stock? No. I sort of based my recipe after the recipe I found in that both used quinoa and shallot in the ingredients. That’s where the similarities end. So it seems like there’s no point in giving credit to this faux quinoa risotto recipe. Right?

The below ingredients list is mostly what I used. The asterisk indicates my recommendations. This dish is easily made vegan/vegetarian by using vegetable stock or water and omitting the half-and-half, cheese and butter.


  • 1 c. red quinoa
  • 3 to 4 c. chicken or vegetable stock, or water*
  • half-and-half, as needed (optional)
  • 1 c. beet puree
  • ½ c. chopped shallot
  • one bunch of scallions sliced (white parts and green parts, divided)
  • 1 c. dry white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 c. roasted beet puree
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil, butter
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring the stock, broth, or water to warm in a medium saucepan.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon each of oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and shallot and sauté until soft.
  3. Add the garlic and stir briefly. Add another tablespoon of butter. Add the quinoa and toast the grains, stirring frequently until aromatic.
  4. Add the wine; stir the mixture until the wine has absorbed. Increase heat to medium-high. Add the stock one ladleful at a time until all the liquid has absorbed. Add half-and-half and parmesan cheese to add a more creaminess to the dish. Stir in beet puree. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with sliced scallions (the green ends). Serve with plenty of parmesan cheese on the side.


So, yeah. The recipe I was going off of for quinoa risotto called for two cups of chicken stock. I was using beet puree to make my dish a beet quinoa, so I decided to substitute one of those cups of stock for the puree. Bad idea. Quinoa does not want to absorb a really thick beet puree, which is why the above ingredients describe adding the puree at the end.

I started out with about 2 cups of liquid and went through it really quickly. The quinoa was not even close to being cooked. A traditional risotto will use about four cups of warm stock per one cup of grain, so I suggest starting out with that amount of stock for this recipe. You can always add more water, stock or half-and-half as needed while cooking.

I fought with this damn dish for almost two hours. You don’t even want to know how much fat-free half-and-half (clearly if fat-free you know I didn’t buy it) I threw into this dish (almost a quart!) attempting to de-crunch the quinoa. My friends patiently waited for my culinary genius to present itself the dish to be done. Donna graciously attempted to cook the salmon in time to my dish. We ate our salads and salmon long before this dish was even done. Eventually I threw in the towel threw in a bunch of water, turned the heat up on the dish and the quinoa began to slowly de-crunch.

So there you have it. I’m not even convinced you can make risotto-style quinoa successfully after the adventure I had. But if you can, I’m positive it involves copious amounts of warm stock and plenty of time. If you have both, you’re in luck. I will try this recipe again in my own kitchen and let you know of my findings!

Recipe rating: 

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