Saffron Quinoa Risotto

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Did you know that saffron is more costly than gold?

Saffron, a spice derived from the saffron crocus flower, gives dishes a rich warm flavor and a yellow color.  Why is it so expensive?  When it takes over 75,000 flowers to produce and single pound of spice, well you can get the picture.  Although costly, I cannot get enough of this spice, and use it whenever appropriate.

Saffron also has many health benefits and includes minerals such as copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium, although you probably won’t be getting these in high amounts unless you ingest a bunch of saffron (I wouldn’t suggest it).

You may be familiar with saffron from the spanish dish paella, or possibly from risotto alla milanese from northern Italy. Both are traditional rice dishes that use saffron.

If you know me, you know that I am not a fan of rice.  Rice just doesn’t seem to do well for my digestion or my blood sugars.  I therefore avoid it at all cost, unless the menu reads risotto.  Risotto is a weak spot of mine, and is the number one request of friends and family at dinner parties.  If only rice wasn’t so bad for my blood sugars.

Quinoa, however,  is a different story.  I LOVE quinoa.  Contrary to popular thought quinoa is not in fact a grain, but rather a seed, and that makes all the difference.  Bring on the quinoa!

My Italian friend and colleague joked one time that quinoa looks like baby food, well the texture is what makes quinoa risotto an option.  I like my risotto gooey and so my quinoa risotto must also be.

Saffron Quinoa Risotto

Ingredients :

1 cup quinoa (both red and white versions are good)

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 pinch saffron

1 pinch salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

Add quinoa, saffron, and stock to a medium sauce pan over high heat.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Cover and cook until grains are soft (about 30 minutes).

Remove from heat and let sit for five minutes.

Add olive oil, salt, and parmesan to taste.

Serve over a bed of greens and stir-fried zucchini.

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