Great colour here, visual and flavour. The red quinoa and red pepper puree “risotto” has a sweet nuttiness, enhanced by the umami from the parmesan. The pickled cherry tomatoes, infused with garlic and dill, add some “zing” which itself is nicely balanced by the creaminess of the grilled haloumi cheese.
Quinoa is not like arborio rice. It does not have the starch content that makes a real risotto so creamy. The red pepper puree does bring about a vaguely similar consistency. However the quinoa is cooked like a classic risotto would be cooked. Sauté some onion, add the quinoa, deglaze with wine, add stock, stir, when absorbed, add more, repeat until the quinoa is al dente.
The quality of the vegetable stock is critical to the success of this dish. I used my base veggie stock, then simmered some red peppers and shiitake mushrooms in it for another hour. Not only did this add a very distinctive sweet umami character to the taste of the stock, it also enhanced red-brown colour.
Why pickled cherry tomatoes? There was a need for something a little sour to balance the other flavours in this dish. Perhaps also the element of surprise. These tomatoes do not taste like what you are expecting, yet are so delectable in combination with the cheese and sweet nutty risotto. This was a “quick pickle” and so a lot more subtle as compared to pickling vegetables to last the long winter months (if you have those in your part of the world). Thanks to Bon Appétit for the quick pickled tomato recipe.
The recipe suggests drizzling the finished dish with some truffle infused honey. I bought some from the gourmet food section of Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne. It is such a divine combination and worked so well on this dish. Not easy to find though. Alternatively, use a great local liquid honey, or the best extra virgin olive oil you can buy.
Red quinoa risotto with pickled cherry tomatoes and grilled haloumi
Pickled cherry tomatoes
- 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup water
- 4 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp raw sugar
- 1 10 cm strip of lemon or lime peel use a vegetable peeler
- 350 g cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1/4 cup dill coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and finely diced
- 1/2 tsp crushed red chilli
Red quinoa risotto
- 2 red peppers aka capsicums
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup red quinoa
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 20 g butter
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1/2 cup parmesan finely grated
- 250 g haloumi cheese
Pickled cherry tomatoes
- Pour the vinegar and water into a saucepan and add the salt, sugar, and lemon peel.
- Bring to a simmer and simmer until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.
- Pierce each tomato with a bbq skewer length-wise and width-wise.
- Toss tomatoes, dill, garlic, and crushed red chilli in a bowl large enough for the tomatoes and pickling liquid.
- Add the pickling liquid to the tomatoes, cover and let stand at room temperature for 4 to 8 hours.
Red quinoa risotto
- Preheat the oven to 180 degC.
- Halve, trim, and rinse the red peppers and smear with olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
- Roast the red peppers on a baking tray for 45 minutes.
- Allow to cool a little and remove any burnt or loose skin.
- Use a food processor to blend the red peppers into a paste.
- Finely dice the onion and the garlic. In a high sided fry pan or wok, sauté in 10g butter over a medium heat until transparent.
- Add the quinoa and stir fry until the quinoa becomes fragrant and nutty, about 5 minutes.
- Add the red wine to deglaze. Stir until the wine has been absorbed.
- Add half a cup of the vegetable stock and 1/2 tsp salt and stir.
- When the stock has been absorbed, add another half cup of stock and stir.
- Repeat until the quinoa is al dente.
- Stir in the red pepper paste and parmesan and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Cut the haloumi into roughly 10x10x50mm pieces.
- Lay on baking paper on a baking tray and grill/broil in the oven.
- Once the top side is turning golden, turn over and do the next side, until all 4 sides are golden.
- Spoon some risotto on to a plate. Top with pickled tomatoes and grilled halloumi.
- Drizzle with some truffle infused honey. Or truffle infused olive oil. Or just a good olive oil.