Tackling Quinoa and Risotto with One Recipe: Sargent Choice Test Kitchen

By Allison Mars, Dietetics Student, Sargent College

Going to the Sargent Choice Test Kitchen in Prof. Jacob’s apartment is my favorite way to spend a Wednesday night, and Wednesday, November 17th, Quinoa Risotto with Arugula and Parmesan was on the menu. People have pre-conceived ideas about both quinoa and risotto, assuming that both are difficult to make, and time intensive, but this recipe is both quick and easy.

Picture1 KJ Test Kitchen Quinoa Risotto

Not only is this quinoa risotto gluten free, it’s also high in fiber and protein! The longest part of the process was chopping all of the delicious vegetables. Once everything is combined in the pot, it needs to simmer for about 12 minutes, and you have a quick, nutritious and delicious meal. This recipe can be made vegetarian by simply swapping the chicken broth for vegetable broth.

Picture2 KJ Test Kitchen Quinoa Risotto

We tripled the recipe to accommodate all of the people in the test kitchen. The red bell pepper was omitted due to an allergy. If you can’t have red bell peppers either, you could always substitute zucchini or asparagus. Instead of using the whole 6 and ¾ cups broth, we found that 6 cups worked better. We also used slightly less arugula than the recipe called for because it didn’t cook down quite as much as we expected. Another change was that we used red quinoa, which has a slightly nuttier taste, instead of regular quinoa. Although the recipe does not explicitly say it, the quinoa should be rinsed in cold water before cooking.

Picture3 KJ Test Kitchen Quinoa Risotto

The final outcome: When we tasted this recipe before adding the cheese it seemed to be missing something. This cheese almost made up for it, but it still seemed to be lacking any real flavor punch. The arugula added too much of a bitter taste, and we felt that there was still too much liquid in the quinoa even after simmer for a little over 12 minutes. If that happens to you, give it another couple minutes and check on it again.  If you wanted to reduce the bitterness from the arugula, you could substitute it with a milder tasting leafy green, such as spinach. To give more flavor to the dish perhaps increase the thyme to ½ teaspoon and add ½ teaspoon of marjoram when you cook the onions. Overall this recipe was has a good, earthy flavor and would pair very nicely with chicken or pork.

Picture4 KJ Test Kitchen Quinoa Risotto

Quinoa Risotto with Arugula and Parmesan


1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup yellow onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
2 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken/vegetable broth
2 cups chopped, stemmed arugula
½ cup carrot, peeled and shredded
½ cup sliced shitake mushrooms
½ cup red pepper, sliced thinly
½ cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
¼ cup reduced fat parmesan cheese, grated
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
¼ teaspoon ground thyme


  1. In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and thyme and saute until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and quinoa, and cook for 1 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not let the garlic brown.
  3. Add the chicken broth (or vegetable broth) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until quinoa is almost tender to bite, about 12 minutes.
  4. Stir in the arugula, carrot, mushrooms, pepper, and tomatoes and simmer until the quinoa grains have turned from white to translucent, about 2 minutes longer.
  5. Sprinkle the cheese and ground pepper on top. Serve immediately.

Karen Jacobs holds the Sargent Choice Test Kitchen on most Wednesday nights throughout the semester. Every event is free and open to the entire BU community. Tonight she’s be making Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies– with Milk provided! Go check it out!

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