Ode to Autumn Part II: skinny mushroom ‘risotto’

Remember the recipe from Monday? I don’t know whether you had the chance to try it, but if you still refuse to give in to autumn’s comforts I prepared a healthier, leaner alternative that does not compromise on taste. I simply swapped a couple of ingredients, omitted the dairy and added nutritious lemon and coriander for taste.

Primarily I substituted the Arborio rice with Quinoa- the up and coming super- grain. Declared as the food of the year for 2013 by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN, quinoa has a lot to offer compared to other grains. Loaded with flavonoids, anti-inflammatory active ingredients present in cranberries, quinoa wins the title of a medicinal grain. Only 220 calories per 185 grams, the fact that quinoa is packed with proteins and good fatty acids makes it a complete and balanced source of carbs, fats and proteins. Finally quinoa contains a generous quantity of Vitamin E and a variety of minerals such as calcium, copper, phosphorus and manganese… and the best news are yet to come- almost all of the nutrients mentioned are retained during the cooking process.

By choosing to execute this recipe for you today I am doing your body a huge favor- spearing it from dairy. Dairy, although delicious and on some occasions nutritious, is packed in fats, calories and lactose- a special strand of dairy sugar that most of us lack the enzymes to metabolize efficiently. Instead, I simply cooked out the quinoa in vegetable stock, adding bags of flavor to it together with the onion, mushroom, chicken, zucchini, coriander and lemon; each perfecting the ‘risotto’s’ flavor.

Finally I want occupy a tiny space and mention a little something about lean meat, or chicken breast- the leanest meat known to man. Chicken breast is packed with proteins and very frugal on fats and carbs, making it also low on calories. Furthermore the cooking preparation keeps it light- the chicken is stir fried for 20 seconds together with the mushrooms and onions and then poached with the quinoa and vegetable stock.

And now finally the recipe!

Skinny mushroom ‘risotto’- quinoa with chicken, mushroom, lemon and coriander
A recipe by Domenica Catelli
Serves 6


 350 g quinoa
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
110 g shiitake mushrooms diced
2 organic chicken breasts diced
Salt and black pepper
1 litre vegetable stock
2 courgettes thinly sliced
Juice of 2 lemons
3 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
Small bunch of coriander leaves, ripped into shreds
Olive oil to splash


  1. Prepare your vegetable stock, keep aside for later. If you are using a cube, dissolve into water by bringing it to the boil and allowing it to simmer for couple of minutes more
  2. Prep your vegetables: chop the onion, finely chop the garlic, dice the mushrooms, slice the zucchini. Clean the board and dice the chicken. Make sure you thoroughly clean the chopping board.
  3. Toast the quinoa for a minute, keep aside for later
  4. Sweat the onions and the garlic in olive oil, until they turn transparent; add the mushrooms, stir well on high heat for 2-3 min. Quickly add the chicken and the quinoa followed by the
    vegetable stock. Cover pan with a lid and allow to simmer for 15 min on medium temperature
  5. Add zucchini, toasted sesame seeds, lemon juice and coriander leaves, stir well, check the seasoning. Turn off the heat and allow the quinoa to absorb the flavours.
  6. Pour in a small soup bowl and decorate with coriander leaves.

Bon appetit!


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