Summer Quinoa Risotto, Under 250 cal. & 9g protein!

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Update 9/9/16: Nutrition facts have been corrected from original post.Summertime Risotto -Main pic 1-edited 2.jpg

In my first few weeks of culinary school the chef instructor waltzed into the classroom, strode up to the chalkboard and wrote out “Today’s Dish, Succotash.” Short of a Sylvester the Cat’s catch phrase, I didn’t know much about the depression era dish made up of combining different beans and grains. A classmate of mine raised his knife nicked hand and asked, “is that it?” The Chef laughed and pulled out a potato sack sized bag of fava beans, laid them on his counter top, and replied, “Let’s get started.”

I quickly learned that these beautiful, meaty beans are nothing short of the definition of a labor of love. As our sweatshop of culinary students worked to extract, blanch, and snack on the little peas, and my frustration for the work bean to subside, I fell in love with their flavor. Although tedious and time consuming, they aren’t difficult to prepare. They don’t take any special skill, cooking intuition, or expensive equipment. They just take a little T.L.C. Plus, the amount of protein in the beans exceed that of the quinoa! Crazy, right?!

Summer Risotto-Fava Beans-edited

summer-risotto-nutrition-factsSo, the next time you stroll by crates of them at your farmers market, stop and consider taking some home. I like to buy extras, prep them, and then freeze them for when they are out of their short season.

Although I call this a risotto, mostly because of the method by which its cooked, its not your traditional rice dish. Using quinoa makes this healthier by providing grains and protein, but it won’t be as creamy as an arborio based risotto. However, its full of intense flavor, and unlike its traditional counterpart, not full of fat or empty carbohydrates. The portion size may seem small, but the amount of protein and fiber provided by the quinoa and vegetables won’t leave you hungry.

Summer Quinoa Risotto

Serves 4


Summertime Risotto Ingredients-edited

  • 1.5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (or 1/2 of a large)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed and dried*
  • 1 cup fava beans, (about 15-20 pods) separated into 2 piles, small and large
  • 1 small ear of corn
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, 1″ pieces
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp fat free 1/2 & 1/2
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*Steps 1-3, as well as cleaning the quinoa can be done ahead of time, either the day before, or in the morning.


  1. Bring a pot of water to boil that is large enough to fit your ear of corn. First, drop the Summertime Risotto fava water bath-editedlarge fava beans into the water and boil them for 2 minutes, using a slotted spoon, remove them and immediately place them in an bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Scoop them out of the ice bath and set side. Repeat this with the smaller beans, cooking only 1 minute. Remove the skins from all the favas and set aside.
  2. Repeat this same procedure of blanching with the broccoli, only letting it cook less than 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the broccoli and again drop into an ice bath. Set aside.
  3.  Back at the pot, salt the water as you would for pasta and bring back to a rolling boil. Turn off the flame and gently drop in the ears of corn. Cover and leave it alone for 5 mins. Remove the corn with tongs and allow to cool a few minutes. Cut the corn off the cob and combine with the beans and broccoli. Set aside.
  4. In a small pot, bring the broth to a mild simmer on a back burner, not a boil.
  5. In a separate pot on the burner in front of the simmering broth, (I use the one from the corn), toast the dry quinoa over medium heat stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes. You’ll start to smell the toasty scent, but don’t let them burn. Scrape the quinoa onto a  plate.
  6. In the same pot, melt the butter. Add in the shallots and cook until soft. Add in the garlic and cook about 30 secs. Add the quinoa back in Stir in the quinoa and combine with the aromatics and butter.  Pour in the wine and cook until the wine is reduced to about a 1/3. Don’t let it burn! stirring frequently.
  7. Using a ladle (or a large ice cream scoop like I had to), add about a 1/2 cup of the simmering broth to the quinoa and stir constantly until its absorbed. Repeat this process until the quinoa is cooked.
  8. Lower the heat and add in the half & half. Stir until incorporated.
  9. Fold in the prepared vegetables until heated through, following with the cheese, pepper, and if necessary, salt. Serve immediately.

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