Pilar Valdes' Quinoa Risotto with Winter Squash, Herbs and Seared Mushrooms

(serves 4)

5 minsPrep Time
40 minsCook Time

45 minsTotal Time


  • 1-1.25 lb winter squash
  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 2 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock, separated
  • 4 ounces mushroom (recommend King Trumpet, but really any mushroom will be delicious), base trimmed, sliced lengthwise into 1/4" slices and scored
  • 1 stalk scallion, sliced fine on bias
  • 2 sprigs parsley, leaves picked and reserved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Halve squash (if using delicata, keep as rings), scoop out seeds (save for another use). Drizzle with oil and season lightly with salt & pepper. Roast until tender, about 20-25 minutes for larger squash, 15 for delicata. Allow to cool slightly. Place 1 cup of cooked squash, plus 1/4 c liquid (water or vegetable stock) in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste for sweetness and seasoning. Cut up the remainder of the squash into rings or 1/4" cubes and set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, in a medium pot on medium-high heat, toast the quinoa shaking the pot frequently until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Slowly stir in 2 1/4 c water or vegetable stock (it will sputter a bit). Season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a mild simmer, stirring occasionally until cooked through, about 18 minutes. It should be looser than regular cooked quinoa, but each seed should still have some shape. Fold in squash puree. Check seasoning; re-season as necessary. Keep warm.

  3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, sear the trumpet mushrooms on one side until golden brown, about 2 minutes, then flip. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook on the other side until just cooked through, about 2 more minutes. Remove from heat.

  4. To serve: Place the warm, creamy quinoa in a bowl. Top with squash rings/ cubes and seared mushroom. Garnish with herbs, zest of lemon, a squeeze of lemon. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper.


  • ​​​​​Toast quinoa first, for an added nutty flavor

  • Reheats well in a pan with a slick of boiling water

  • Can use thinly-skinned squash like honeynut, delicata or black futzu, which cuts down on having to scoop flesh out since whole squash is edible. You can easily substitute sweet potato or cauliflower, too.

According to Pilar, this is a really lovely, cold weather dish. Quinoa is cooked in vegetable stock and finished off with a puree of roast squash (like Koginut or Honeynut) to substitute for cream or dairy. Then, the meal is topped with seared mushrooms and some of the roast squash, culminating in a comforting and delicious dish!