Pumpkin Quinoa Risotto

This recipe “happened” when a friend and I overcooked a lot (3 pounds) of quinoa and could not bear to throw it out. So we froze it and have been using it as the basis of many dishes since including soups and breakfast porridge (see the blog post here). This dish, though, is one of a series I call “freezer convenience foods” because you can just toss the defrosted ingredients together in a pot and have dinner in a flash. The trick, of course, is having the ingredients in the freezer. A working freezer. Mine just died. But I saved the frozen quinoa! It’s staying at a neighbor’s until I need it.

Pumpkin Quinoa Risotto


About 2 1/2 cups overcooked quinoa

6 to 8 ounces cooked (steamed, roasted, or canned) pumpkin or winter squash puree

1 to 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth or water

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin or to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander or to taste

1/4 teaspoon chili flakes or to taste

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 small bunch (about 6 ounces) leafy greens such as spinach, kale, chard, collards, or turnip tops or use steamed green beans cut into 1-inch lengths

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

12 to 16 fresh sage leaves

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more to pass at table

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Scant 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds


Place the quinoa in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the pumpkin puree and enough broth or water to loosen the quinoa to a risotto consistency. Add the cumin, coriander, chili flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and heat until hot.

While the quinoa heats, cut the leafy greens into thin shreds and set aside. Line a small plate with paper towels. Put the olive oil in a small pan and place over medium-high heat. Add the sage leaves and fry until crispy. Tilt the pan so the oil collects in a little pool and push the leaves into it. This allows you to use less oil. Transfer the sage to the prepared plate with a slotted spoon. Pour the sage-scented oil into the quinoa.

Stir in the leafy greens (or green beans) and heat gently until the greens have wilted and turned bright green. Stir in the 1/3 cup Parmesan and the butter and taste again for seasoning.

To serve, spoon quinoa risotto into warm bowls and top with the toasted pumpkin seeds and fried sage. Pass more Parmesan at table.

Other Notes

Once you have cooked quinoa available, you can go in any direction. The flavors just depend on what you have on hand. Go Italian, as here, or try Asian flavors with coconut milk, sour lime leaves, ginger, garlic, and chilies.



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Thanks again for a great boost in getting our kitchen functioning. What a difference! I can actually get implements out of the drawer without a struggle. I made a carrot salad for dinner with no hassle because the Cuisinart was at hand to shred the carrots! Yay!

-Francesca Bannerman, SF

About Penni

Over 30 years as a food and wine professional, writer, and editor.

Cookbook author including:
'The Tra Vigne Cookbook' for Michael Chiarello,
'The Basque Kitchen' for Gerald Hirigoyen
and 'BurgerBar' for Hubert Keller.

Contact Penni Wisner