Salt&Time recipe: Buckwheat mushroom risotto

An old Russian saying goes: ‘Shchi da kasha pishcha nasha’
(good luck trying to pronounce that one!), which simply means
that Shchi soup and porridge are national staples. With buckwheat and mushrooms being amongst the most ancient ingredients of Slavic cuisine, dating far back into the Middle Ages, porridge with fried onions, mushrooms and soft herbs is an indisputable classic. Indeed, nothing can beat the combination of sweet, earthy and woody flavours that these ingredients produce when mixed together. Thinking of ways to elevate this simple dish,
I felt that all these flavours could be highlighted even more if cooked together as a risotto, with the addition of garlic, white wine, pine nuts and a pungent tarragon pesto. Having served this dish at one of my supper clubs, I received the best feedback from a guest who compared eating the dish to a walk through a Siberian wood. Well,bon appétit and enjoy your promenade!

SERVES 4

20g dried wild mushrooms 100ml boiling water
2 tablespoons sunflower oil 1 small onion, finely diced 400g chestnut mushrooms,chopped
2 pinches of salt
4 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon finelychopped thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley, plus extra
150ml dry white wine
splash of soy sauce
400g roasted buckwheat
600ml vegetable stock
knob of unsalted butter
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
50g toasted pine nuts, to garnish

Soak the wild mushrooms in 100g of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, heat the oil in a medium pot and fry off the onions for a few minutes until they are translucent but not yet caramelised. Next add the chopped chestnut mushrooms, two generous pinches of salt and cook on medium heat for 5-8 minutes.

Drain the wild mushrooms and chop them roughly. Reserve the liquid and add the chopped mushrooms into the pot, along with garlic and the herbs. Cook for another 5 minutes before adding the white wine and a splash of soy sauce. Turn up the heat for 5-8 minutes to let the alcohol evaporate, and then add the buckwheat. Lower the heat to a medium and stir well until the buckwheat soaks up all the liquid. 

Start adding the mix of mushroom stock and the reserved liquid in which the dried mushrooms were soaking, 100ml at a time, stirring constantly. Let the liquid get absorbed before adding the next 100ml. Continue until all the stock is used up. The buckwheat should be almost cooked by that point. 

Add a knob of butter and a pinch of salt, close firmly with a lid and let rest for 10 minutes. 

Serve with a sprinkle of pine nuts and some fresh dill and parsley leaves.

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