Not cold, because it just hasn’t been a cold January. But damp and cool, nevertheless. And gray. And getting dark. And mistiness giving way to rain.
Well, when all those things align, isn’t it wonderful to realize there is nothing more to do than sip wine, relax into a quiet evening, and have something to eat that’s a little quiet and relaxing, too.
And so I turned from the more colorful tricolor quinoa of the past two weeks to paler pasta-colored quinoa, which I rinsed a cup of in a strainer, and set aside. I then added five cups of water to a couple vegetable stock cubes to bring up to a boil and simmer.
And I picked a few sage leaves outside just as the mist was turning to a light drizzle.
So into a pan, in which I’d heated enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the bottom, along with a tablespoon of butter, I added one cup of finely chopped white onion, two minced garlic cloves, and two finely chopped celery stalks. I sliced the sage leaves into thin ribbons and stirred those in. Salt and pepper. Allowed to soften, 10 to 20 minutes.
With the vegetables softened, I added the quinoa, and turned the heat up to a medium high to get it a little browned and toasted. Five minutes, maybe 10. Then a healthy amount of white vermouth (wine would, of course, be perfect,too). Maybe 1/4 cup. Maybe 1/2 cup. Not exactly sure, because I was eyeballing it…enough to get the quinoa pleasantly wet.
With the white vermouth easily drunk up by the quinoa, I began to ladle a spoonful or two of broth, letting it absorb completely before adding the next ladle, keeping the heat at about medium.
After five or ten minutes of ladling, the white rings began to appear around each kernel, and maybe another five or ten minutes after that, the quinoa looked noticeably expanded and full and soft.
I stopped ladling more stock and turned off the heat, then added those last creamy risotto touches: a little half and half, a good handful of grated cheese, and a pat of butter.
Rain outside, candles lit inside, catching up on on some DVR’d TV, and something deliciously cozy to eat. What could be better than that?