Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mixed Grain Risotto with Mushrooms

When I was in Italy I bought a pack of mixed grains from a supermarket in a tiny town called Otranto, because that's what I do, spend excessive amounts of time inside air-conditioned supermarkets while life goes on outside. Figuring I had no extra room in my backpack, but already had a hefty stash of olive oil and tubes of Greek olive paste to bring home, I thought why not add another bulky item to my already overloaded bag.

Now that I'm home I'm keen to use it... but no matter how much Google translating I do I actually can't figure out what the mix is intended to be used for. I can see bits of buckwheat, long brown rice that red rice? Who knows. 

So I started thinking about grains and how I could make another salad, or cook up a handful to eat with some curry but then instead decided that I was going to take a cue from my Italian cousins (again, if I say it enough maybe I will actually become an Italian) and make a warming risotto to suit the cold, wet winter we are having.

I made the risotto the way my brilliant cook of a mother taught me. Lots of liquid, lots of stirring and a moment of peace- she always leaves a lid on for a few minutes at the end just while the rice is still a bit bitey, turns the heat off and lets it sit in silence. Just a few seconds to rest your stirring arm, which allows the rice to soak up all the goodness and let the flavours really mingle before eating.

I added roasted mushrooms on top because mushrooms are quite nearly my favourite thing in the world, a squeeze of lemon for lightness and a handful of spinach to get the good things in and finished it all off with too much Parmesan, because life is short and cheese is tasty.  

Mixed Grain Risotto with Roasted Mushrooms
Serves 4

16 medium sized field mushrooms sliced - leave about 9 whole for roasting
2 cloves of garlic
1 brown onion
350g mixed grains - buckwheat, red rice, arborio rice, brown rice
1.5 litres vegetable stock
Fresh lemon thyme
2 cups english spinach, thinly shredded
Big handful of shaved Parmesan
1 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
Sea salt flakes

Finely dice the onion and add to a large frying pan with a good splash of olive oil. Season with sea salt and cook over a low-medium heat until golden and translucent. Add chopped garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile pour stock into a pot and warm over a low heat on the stove. Place the 9 whole mushrooms on a lined baking tray. Season with salt and pepper and a few good sprigs of lemon thyme. Drizzle with olive oil and place in a  180 degree oven for about 20 minutes until juicy and browned. 

While the mushrooms are roasting, add the mixed grains into the frying pan with the onions. Turn the heat up to medium-high and stir through to coat grains. Add a ladle-full of warmed vegetable stock to the grains and stir continuously for a few minutes. Add another ladle-full of stock and stir through again, until the mixture starts to thicken and absorb the liquid. Repeat until nearly all the stock is used up and the grains have absorbed most of the liquid and is cooked most of the way through.

Add the last little bit of stock to the risotto, the shredded spinach and the rest of the mushrooms, finely sliced. Put a lid on the pan, turn off the heat and let it sit for 5-7 minutes. 

Remove lid, season risotto with grated lemon zest and a small squeeze of lemon juice. Remove mushrooms from the oven. Transfer risotto to a bowl, top with a few roast mushrooms, freshly grated Parmesan and a few extra sprigs of lemon thyme. 


  1. I love your outlook on life xx

    1. Thankyou, that is a wildly sweet thing to say x