Make: Quinoa Shrimp Risotto

New to quinoa? Here's an easy dish to get you started.

Photograph by Maura Manzo

This Italian girl loves pasta, but sometimes it’s just too much in the hot summer months. So for this risotto dish, I substitute quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) and added over two cups of raw veggies to keep it light.

New to quinoa? A complete protein, quinoa is a whole grain that’s great for athletes, vegetarians or anyone trying to eat less meat. Today’s recipe is the perfect dish for newbies who are interested in incorporating it into their diets. I added grilled shrimp to indulge in the best of summer seafood.

Quinoa Risotto with Shrimp
Serves three

1 cup Quinoa
1 cup Yellow Onion, Chopped
1 cup Zucchini, Chopped
1 cup Portabella Mushrooms, Chopped
1 cup Low Sodium Chicken or vegetable broth
¾ cup Parmesan Cheese, Shredded
¾ cup Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, Chopped
½ cup Milk (Whole, Reduced Fat or Soy)
½ cup Water
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ tsp Garlic, Minced
1 lb  Shrimp
¼ tsp Sea Salt and Pepper

Rinse and drain quinoa using a fine mesh strainer to remove the bitter outer coating. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy saucepan oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, stirring constantly. Add garlic and quinoa. Continue stirring a minute or two to toast quinoa (it will become very fragrant). Carefully stir in broth, water and milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

While quinoa is cooking, chop mushrooms, zucchini and parsley. In a large bowl, add remaining olive oil, ¼ cup parsley and half the amount of salt and pepper. Toss shrimp in marinade. To cook shrimp, sauté or grill approximately three minutes each side, until shrimp are pink.

Once quinoa is finished cooking, remove from heat and add cheese, mushrooms and zucchini. Let stand a few minutes so risotto can thicken. Finally, garnish with remaining parsley and top with shrimp. Serve warm.

Food fact: Called the “mother of all foods,” quinoa was considered a super food of the ancient Aztecs. Today, quinoa is reestablishing its reputation as powerful and healthy. This gluten-free grain in easy to digest and provides energy for long periods of time.  It is a complete protein, containing all nine amino acids, and is also high in calcium, making it a popular dish among vegetarians and vegans, alike

Shopping tip: If you can, purchase quinoa from the bulk bins in your local market to save money. Regardless of how you purchase, make sure to rinse quinoa before cooking to rinse

Per serving: calories 476, total fat 15.5g, sat. fat 4.5g, cholesterol  161mg, sodium 940mg, carbohydrates 51g, dietary fiber 6.3g, protein 40g

Maura Manzo is a health coach and yoga instructor at RYAH Yoga and Health in Conshohocken.  To learn more about her classes and workshops, visit or ryahyoga.comRead her full bio here.