I was feeling in a “spring” mood, despite a miserable cold, so I thought my “risotto” should be spring-themed. Asparagus was on sale at Sainsbury’s, and combined with leeks, mushrooms, spinach, and lemon, you get a bit of a different flavor profile from the fall/winter dishes I’ve been cooking for the last few months.
This is obviously not real risotto, but made in the same spirit (while my Italian-Swiss housemate was away on a sailing trip, so he can’t complain). Next time, I’d probably just go with just buckwheat or just oats; using grains with two different cooking times is a bit of a pain.
Also, the ratio of vegetables to grains in this recipe is quite high. Combined with the use of whole grains instead of arborio rice, this means that the dish doesn’t quite have the creaminess of a traditional risotto. Do I care? Nope. I like vegetables, and this is pretty darn tasty.
One last thing: some people don’t like nutmeg. I understand its divisiveness, and feel free to leave it out, but I think a pinch of nutmeg finishes this dish wonderfully and goes really well with the lemon.
Buckwheat and oat risotto primavera
Yield: 6+ servings.
5 c chicken or vegetable stock
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, sliced into thin rounds, then cut through the center
1/2 c oat groats
3/4 c raw buckwheat groats
1/2 c dry white wine
2 tsp mixed herbs
500 g asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
380 g mushrooms, halved and sliced 1/2-inch thick
150 g spinach (I thawed some frozen spinach), roughly chopped if large leaves
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan (or similar) for the top
Warm stock in a saucepan over medium/medium-low heat.
Saute leeks in olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. When leeks are softened, remove most of them to a separate bowl if you don’t have room in your pan. Add oat groats to the pan and toast 2-3 minutes, until slightly browned. Deglaze the pan with the wine and add the herbs and some salt and pepper. When the wine has mostly cooked off, add 2 c stock, stir, cover and let cook 5-10 min. Keep an eye on it and ladle in more stock as needed.
After 30 minutes of cooking, stir in buckwheat groats and a bit more stock. Continue cooking, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, adding more stock if the pan starts to get dry. Stir in asparagus with the next ladle of stock. After ~5 minutes, stir in mushrooms, spinach, lemon juice and zest along with last (hopefully) ladle of stock and a pinch of nutmeg if desired. Cook until vegetables are tender and liquid has mostly evaporated. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
Serving suggestion: Top with freshly-grated Parmesan (or Grana Padano, as I’ve been using) and serve alongside chicken, fish, or even eggs.