Just this weekend, I was on Global News, talking about how to get more fruit and veg into your diet. Often, it includes swapping them in where you used to use grains. And today, I am at it again, this time helping you to get more nutrient-dense seeds into your diet by swapping them in for rice.

Before we go any further, I need to clarify: I have nothing against grains. I eat whole grains every day.

Don’t believe the internet: whole grains are totally healthy. Fibre rich and filled with minerals and protein (yes, protein!), no matter what your dietary needs, there is a delicious and nutritious whole grain that deserves to be a part of your diet.

It’s just that, for a grown up who isn’t super active, my priority is upping the nutrient-density of my (and my clients’) diet. So grains are totally healthy – but we could all do with switching it up so we aren’t missing out on some of the other amazing foods that nature has to offer. Who needs 3 cups of pasta a day? No one – except for maybe a teenaged athlete. Or me, in Italy.

Enter this ‘risotto’: I have tried some amazingly delicious sunflower seed risottos over the past couple of years in restaurants and really wanted to try it myself at home. I didn’t expect it would be this easy.

In doing some research, there weren’t a lot of recipes out there and the only blog I found with a great recipe was My New Roots…so I wanted to put my own unique spin on the dish.

I did it by making my risotto a triple threat: not just sunflower seeds but zinc-rich pumpkin seeds to help you fight inflammation and improve gut and immune health, and calcium-rich tahini. Because we all know how to put tahini in a salad dressing, but what about making actual food with it?

What makes this version different is that you don’t have the uniform, bitty, soft texture that 100% sunflower seeds provide but I am totally okay with that. I love the extra texture of pumpkin seeds and the tahini packs this dish with creamy, umami goodness. Seasoning totally makes this dish so taste – and season – well.

Give it a try with whatever veggies are in season. Asparagus just started cropping up so that’s what I used. Other classic pairings include mushrooms and butternut squash. YUM!

Creamy Triple Seed Risotto with Roasted Asparagus

Creamy, no rice and lots of seeds! Delicious and all the right textures!
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Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of asparagus , (about 20 stalks)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw tahini , (sesame butter)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + more for roasting
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • dash sesame oil

Instructions 

  • Boil a kettle of water and let it cool for five minutes. Soak the pumpkin and sunflower seeds in enough water to fully cover by one inch, for at least four hours or all day (do this in the morning so you are ready for dinner at night!)
  • When you're ready to cook, start by prepping the asparagus: preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Wash asparagus and trim ends. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet and toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15-30 minutes, watching for desired doneness. You want them to soften, get a bit roasty but to stay vibrant and not look too wilted. How long it takes depends on how large the asparagus
    are. When done, slice into 2 inch pieces and set aside.
  • For the risotto, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan or a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until translucent and glossy, about five to seven minutes.
  • Drain and rinse seeds in a colander and add to onions, along with stock. Turn heat to medium-low, stir, cover the pot and simmer the seeds for 20 minutes.
  • Remove cover, stir and simmer for another ten minutes. Remove from heat. Most of the liquid will have been absorbed but not all…don't worry, it will come together with the tahini sauce!
  • In a small jar, mix together the tahini with lemon juice, sesame oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Stir tahini sauce into risotto, adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon juice (I like a lot of lemon!) and serve with asparagus.

Photo Credit: Melissa Quantz