I have been trying to write this post for almost three weeks. Every time I sit down (err lay, all of my blog-writing is done in bed because I’m obviously super professional) to write…I suddenly have no words. Like, I just stare at the screen and the recipe below and NOTHING.
Also, I’m not sure if you’ve heard but there’s this thing called the internet? And…how do I put this? Well, it’s my life. So, sometimes I’ll be writing but then suddenly remember that season two of Friday Night Lights just isn’t going to watch itself! Or, you know, realize YouTube doesn’t exist to just sit there ( because it actually exists to teach me how to put on eyeliner and curl my hair, duh). I mean, sometimes I just mosey over to the Modern Love section of The New York Times and lose hours reading those columns. I normally only come up for air when my heart literally can’t stand it anymore.
Actually, the same can be said for Friday Night Lights because that show makes me feel all the feelings. I cried so hard when (spoiler alert?) Smash got into A&M that I had to actually stand up as to not choke on my tears. And those were HAPPY TEARS, you guys. Please just imagine what happens to me when sad things go down.
It’s a miracle I even made this dish at all because at the time I was in deep with both The Good Wife AND Orange is the New Black. And in case you guys were wondering, I do have an actual job. And I work pretty hard at my actual job. This leaves me with a limited amount of free hours to begin with, and as we’ve discussed before, I require sleep. As much of it as possible, really. What I’m saying is I devote most of my available, non-working hours to sitting in bed, watching shows on my little computer. This is when wine and popcorn for dinner comes in handy. But for those of you that need actual substance in the evening, this dish does the trick. Some dishes are just random thoughts that swirl around in my head until I decide I have an actual recipe, and this is definitely one of those.
I’ll be the first to admit that quinoa risotto is not the same as regular risotto. It just isn’t, and because you guys are my friends I’m not even going to sit here and try to pretend like it is. Regular risotto is a beautiful thing, but sometimes a little shake-up can be fun! I could try to go the “hey, it’s healthy for you!” route here, but you’ll notice the cream and cheese in the recipe so I’m not sure I can get away with that.
The tomatoes and shrimp are totally good for you though, right?! Super fresh, and I just love them both with the slightly heavy risotto. Of course, you don’t have to use tomatoes and shrimp here. Use whatever vegetable and/or meat you want! I’m pretty convinced this would be delicious with roasted vegetables and goat cheese, but I’m convinced a shoe would taste good with that combo so you might want to approach that carefully.
Lemon thyme quinoa risotto
Serves 2 (as a meal), 4 (as a side)
20 cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 sprig of thyme
1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled and devined
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup dry quinoa
2 teaspoons oil
1/4 cup white wine
2-3 cups warm chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
Juice and zest from half a lemon
1/3 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a small pan over high heat. When hot, add tomatoes, garlic and thyme (keep the sprig intact). quickly stir so tomatoes are all coated in oil. Reduce heat to medium/medium-high and allow tomatoes to char, shaking pan frequently to keep them moving. When garlic is browned, remove from pan (because nothing is worse than burned garlic). When tomatoes are charred and most have burst, cut the heat and set aside. Remove the thyme sprig and reserve for later.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add quinoa and stir to coat. Toast, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes until starts to take on a light, golden-brown color. Add wine and stir continuously until evaporated. Add stock 1/4 cup at a time, and stir continuously until liquid is completely absorbed before adding the next batch of liquid. You’ll probably use about 2-2 1/4 cups of stock, but I always suggest keeping more on hand just in case. Make sure to taste test as you go along as that’s the only way you’ll know the quinoa is cooked through. The pot will be thick (though not as thick as regular risotto). After you’ve added the last bit of liquid, give the pot one big stir and then cover and let sit for 5-6 minutes. Once time is up, turn off the heat, remove the lid and add your heavy cream, lemon juice, zest and crumbled cheese. Chop up the thyme from your tomatoes and sprinkle in. Mix everything together and allow cheese to melt.
While the risotto is finishing cooking, prepare your shrimp. Preheat your oven to 400. Arrange shrimp on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Toss gently with your hands to ensure each shrimp is coated. Bake for 7 minutes, until shrimp is just cooked through and pink.
To serve, divide risotto in bowls (or plates, whatever). Top with tomatoes and shrimp. Enjoy!