Quinoa Risotto with Vegan-Chicken Mentagi, Sweet Potatoes and Un-snapped Peas

Frances would make something that they called “pollo men-dah-jee”. I am unaware of the proper spelling, but know at the very least lots of mint was involved.

I can recall seeing the dark, quartered chicken pieces in a bowl, wrapped tightly in saran and tucked away on the second shelf of her fridge.

This high-protein veganization came out of my fondness for the fresh-tasting flavor made possible by this abundant leaf that grows rampantly around the garden. My take on the dish also has faux chicken in it, so I thought to start calling it “men-dah-jee” would only be fair – plus it is really fun to say.

Quinoa is used here instead of the short-grain rice found in traditional risottos. Things step even further away from autentico with the addition of sweet potatoes and snap peas – because, well, I like all of these things.

Total prep time, about 25 minutes. You can’t even come close to touching that with arborio.




-medium stock pot
-small sautée pan
-queez aka food processor

-1 cup quinoa
-2 cups water (for quinoa), plus 1/4 cup (for chicken cooking liquid)
-1 sweet potato peeled and cut into 1/4″ cubes
-3/4 cup cubed faux chicken
-1/2 cup of snap peas, shelled (or frozen peas)
-1 handful of fresh mint
-5 sprigs of fresh parsley
-3 leaves of fresh basil
-2 cloves of garlic
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 cup nooch (nutritional yeast)
-sea salt and fresh ground black peppercorn to taste


In medium stock pot begin boiling water on high heat.

In queez combine fresh herbs, garlic, sea salt and pepper. Blend on high, slowly drizzling in oil and then 1/4 cup water. Set aside.

Peel and cube sweet potato. Place in a deep-lipped plate with 1/2″ water and nuke on high for 2 min. Drain and set aside.

Add quinoa to boiling pot, lower heat to medium and cook until tender and all water is absorbed. Add sweet potatoes and set heat to lowt.

Heat small fry pan on medium and scoop about 1/4 of the emulsified mint mixture in to the pan. Cook the cubed “chicken” until heated through, but not browning.

Bring quinoa back up to medium heat and stir in chicken, scraping the sides of the queez so all of the remaining mint mixture gets in there too. Add nooch and sprinkle in the peas. Stir. Check for seasoning.

Top with a few more shakes of nooch and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Halved, multi-colored tomatoes and torn basil leaves drizzled with white balsamic and olive oil (salt and pep) makes for a terrifically balanced salad accompaniment. Yields about 4 servings.


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