buckwheat risotto

I don’t know about you but at this point in Winter, I am ready for Spring sunlight, clothing, and definitely food.  I’m tired of the starchy dishes.  I’m tired of the meaty dishes.  I’m simply tired of all the heaviness and truly desire some lighter fare.

There’s only one problem.  It’s still Winter and Spring vegetables haven’t, well, sprung.

My skin is tired of the drying effects of the heater and my lungs are tired of the sopping wet, bone-chilling rain.

Thank heaven above it’s Lent which automatically forces me into less “heaviness” eating vegetarian but the Lebanese fare leaves me flat as it manages to appear light but be deceptively heavy.

What’s a girl to do??

I thought immediately of risotto but getting a good quality arborio rice where I live is a challenge let alone carnaroli rice, both of which are the secret to my Saffron Risotto.  Rice can also be stodgy and it does take forever to cook.

Enter a staple from my childhood; something that I saw on my breakfast table as well as on my dinner table whenever I visited my father’s side of the family.

Buckwheat.

Although I am not a fan of including a lot of grains in the diet on a daily basis, buckwheat is part of the rhubarb family and is actually a grass or “pseudo-grain” that is fairly digestible when compared to other grasses like quinoa, amaranth, and millet.

It has many health and beauty benefits such as being high in digestible protein, magnesium, antioxidants like rutin and has loads of a wide range of B-vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, and folate.  It is a warming food which makes it ideal to eat in late Winter and early Spring when it’s not quite warm enough for salads but you are tired of potatoes, squash or even other grains.  Buckwheat also helps control blood sugar with a glycemic index of 54 and is a natural diuretic.  Perhaps this is why my Eastern European ancestors were a hearty stock.

I needed a recipe so that I could use the mushrooms I had on hand as they tend to be my protein along with small amounts of raw cheeses like Parmigiano Regianno and Pecorino.  My skin loves the immune boosting properties of mushrooms which are natural anti-virals and antimicrobials helping the body mature immune system dendritic cells along with releasing proteins which protect and repair the body’s tissues.  Crimini, portobello and porcini mushrooms are also high in antioxidants.  They are loaded with riboflavin and niacin, bladder loving selenium and help the body metabolize fats and proteins.

This recipe from The Beauty Chef is a game changer when you want a light but filling recipe guaranteed to make you look and feel beautiful and elegant!

– serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 cup buckwheat
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, plus extra sprigs to serve
  • 350 gm mixed mushrooms, small ones halved, large ones thickly sliced
  • 60 gm finely grated sheep’s pecorino or parmesan
  • Large handful coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to serve
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon, juice of ½

Mushroom stock

  • 2 liters filtered water
  • 3 large field mushrooms, broken into large pieces
  • 2 leeks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 heads of garlic, halved
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 20 gm dried mushrooms

Method

  1. To make the mushroom stock, simmer all the ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat until well-flavored (about 45 minutes), strain into a clean saucepan (discard or compost the solids) and keep warm over low heat. The stock can be frozen at this point as it’s a great freezer standby.
  2. Rinse buckwheat and set aside. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add leek, garlic and thyme, stir occasionally until tender (about 5 minutes), add mushrooms, season to taste and cook until beginning to soften (about 5 minutes).
  3. Next, stir in the buckwheat, then add a couple of ladles of mushroom stock, enough to just cover the buckwheat and cook, stirring until absorbed. Season to taste as you cook and continue adding stock like this, stirring until it’s all absorbed before adding more, just as you would when making a risotto. Cook until the buckwheat is just tender but still has a little bite to it (about 25 minutes) – you may not need all the mushroom stock but any leftover can be frozen for another use.
  4. Stir in the parmesan, parsley, lemon rind and lemon juice, check the seasoning and serve hot, scattered with extra parmesan, parsley, and thyme.
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