Growing up in Maine, I learned never to get my hopes up for signs of spring until well into May.
You’re far more likely to witness snow flurries (and people huddled in winter coats) than green leaves and blooming flowers in April in New England.
But recently I had some evidence of approaching spring: lots of tasty fresh spring asparagus on sale at the grocer’s.
It’s a little thing, but I took it and ran with it…
…It may be dark, damp and 40 degrees outside, but I happen to have this yummy bowl of parmesan quinoa with fresh mushrooms and spring asparagus.
Things are looking up!
(Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the complete, printable recipe.)
Here’s everything you’ll need for this Spring Quinoa with Asparagus and Parmesan:
Make it Vegetarian: I happened to have only chicken broth on hand, but I prefer to use vegetable broth for this dish to make it a meatless meal.
Begin by prepping the fresh asparagus and veggies:
Chop up one small onion.
Then grab some fresh mushrooms (use any kind you like – I used crimini or “baby bella” mushrooms for this recipe), and give them a quick rinse to remove any clinging soil.
Remove the stems and thinly slice the mushrooms.
Next, prepare some fresh asparagus.
Grab one spear of asparagus, grip it from both ends, and snap off the bottom.
This is the rough, chewy part you’ll want to toss out.
Timesaver: instead of breaking off the end of each stalk one-by-one, just use this broken end as a “guide” to how much to chop off – then pile up the asparagus and use your knife to slice off all the ends in one quick chop.
Then cut the asparagus into thin slices.
Next, grate plenty of parmesan cheese:
Starting with a block of the real thing, parmigiano-reggiano (and grating it yourself with a box grater) makes all the difference in the final flavor of the dish!
Begin cooking the quinoa just as you would in a traditional risotto:
Then pour a bit of olive oil into a sauce pan and heat it over medium heat.
Add the onion and sauté it until it begins to soften.
While the onion is cooking away, also warm up some organic vegetable broth.
To save myself some time (and another pan to wash), I place the broth in a heat-safe bowl and just microwave the broth.
You’ll want to heat it to the point where it’s hot but not yet boiling.
Then keep it covered and set the bowl aside for the moment.
Next, add another tablespoon of olive oil to the saucepan and then add the quinoa in along with the onion.
Stirring often, cook for a couple of minutes, just until the quinoa becomes lightly toasted.
Then pour some dry white wine into the pot and adjust the heat so that it lightly simmers.
When you notice that the wine has cooked and reduced by about half, it’s time to start adding in the vegetable broth you heated earlier.
Pour a couple of ladles of the vegetable broth into the pot and just let it simmer lightly, stirring often.
After a few minutes, you’ll notice that the broth has mostly cooked down and reduced.
When there’s only about a third of the broth left in the pot, add another 1-2 ladles of broth.
Then just continue to repeat this process, adding a bit more broth and letting it cook down, stirring often, until the quinoa is fully cooked.
You’ll know it’s done when a spiral-looking germ shows up around each individual grain.
You can also taste test to make sure it’s tender.
Sauté the asparagus and mushrooms:
While the quinoa is cooking away (which will take up to 20 minutes), sauté the other veggies in a separate pan.
Heat a bit of olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat.
Add the asparagus and cook until it’s lightly softened but still crisp.
Then add the mushrooms and cook a couple of minutes more.
Season the veggies with salt and pepper and remove the pan from the heat.
When the quinoa is cooked, remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately add in the sautéed asparagus and mushrooms, along with all that yummy parmesan you grated earlier.
Also add a bit more olive oil.
Since this oil is added at the very end, the taste matters.
So a good quality “cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil” is best for this recipe.
Now is also the time to season to your taste with salt and pepper.
(It’s best to hold off on seasoning the quinoa with salt and pepper until the very end for this recipe.)
Stir it all up until the cheese is all deliciously melted in, and serve immediately!
I love this recipe because, as you probably noticed if you’ve ever made one, this quinoa dish mimics a classic risotto (one of my all-time favorites).
It doesn’t taste like the buttery, white-rice-filled risotto dish you may have ordered in a restaurant.
Quinoa has a nutty, earthy flavor that’s quite different from good old-fashioned white rice.
But that richly delicious risotto preparation – white wine, sautéed onion, and parmesan – really transforms quinoa into quite the addictive dish.
The quinoa and fresh veggies add filling fiber, and the olive oil and parmesan add lots of satisfying richness.
So if you’re looking for a vegetarian or meatless meal, this is perfect as an entrée, served along with some vegetable soup or a small garden salad.
Chris set up our outdoor patio furniture a little too soon, maybe.
We continue to eat indoors, me huddled in sweaters and warm slippers, until spring finally sets its sights on New England.
In the meantime, I’ll stop complaining and stay content with my “springtime on a plate.”
Here’s the complete recipe for Spring Quinoa with Asparagus and Parmesan:
- Serving size: 6
- Calories: 435
- Fat: 17.8g
- Saturated fat: 2.8g
- Carbohydrates: 47.8g
- Sugar: 2g
- Sodium: 260mg
- Fiber: 4g
- Protein: 15.9g
- Cholesterol: 9mg
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
- 2 cups organic vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1½ cups quinoa
- 1 cup white wine
- 8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into quarter-inch pieces
- 4 ounces crimini ("baby bella") mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
- 1⅓ cups parmesan, freshly grated
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Place vegetable broth in a heat-safe bowl and microwave until hot but not boiling, about 2 minutes. Cover and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until lightly softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add another tablespoon olive oil along with the quinoa. Cook, stirring often, until quinoa is lightly toasted, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the white wine and adjust the heat to a light simmer. Allow wine to cook and reduce, about 3-5 minutes.
- Pour about 2 ladles of the vegetable broth into the saucepan and allow it to simmer lightly, stirring often.
- When the broth has cooked down and reduced so that there is only about ⅓ of the broth left in the pot, add another 1-2 ladles of broth.
- Repeat this process, stirring often, until quinoa is cooked through, about 18-20 minutes. (A spiral germ will be visible around each individual grain when the quinoa is ready.)
- While the quinoa is cooking, heat one tablespoon olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the asparagus and cook until lightly softened but still crisp, about 3- 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook about 2 minutes longer, Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
- Add the asparagus and mushrooms to the quinoa, along with 1 cup grated parmesan. Also add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Stir until cheese is completely melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, topping each plate with additional parmesan.
*I estimate recipe nutrition information by entering my recipes at Calorie Count.
Check out more Quinoa and Ancient Grain Recipes.
Check out more Vegetarian Recipes.
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