from one generation to the next
Many, many years ago we lived in a rural area on a small acreage that had been home to many generations of previous residents. They had left a wonderful legacy of mature trees. We arrived in the spring then autumn surprised us with a bountiful walnut crop. Since that time I have eschewed the often bitter, commercially packaged imported walnuts. The cooling of the seasons has heralded the arrival of this year’s walnut crop and I’ve just bought a large bagful along with a fantastic spring loaded nut cracker that even my arthritic hand can easily manage, so now it’s time to get cracking and start cooking with walnuts.
MUSHROOM, WALNUT & HERB RISOTTO
25g dried porcini mushrooms
One bunch of Swiss chard or silverbeet
250g swiss brown mushrooms, chopped or sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
250 g Arborio rice
125ml dry white wine
About 500ml of hot chicken or beef stock
¼ cup fresh herbs, chopped, oregano, sage, basil, thyme, parsley, rosemary
Freshly ground pepper
½ cup chopped walnuts
(Optional) ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking water, then chop the mushrooms, discarding any hard pieces.
Strip the leaves off the stems of chard and wash thoroughly. Steam the leaves in the water that is clinging to the leaves. As soon as the leaves wilt, remove from the heat, refresh in cold water, drain, then roughly chop. Destring the chard stems and slice into 1cm slices.
Heat the stock, then heat the olive oil in a separate large pan and sauté the onion, chard stems and fresh mushrooms over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat in oil. Lightly brown the rice then add the wine and the mushroom soaking liquid. Cook until the liquid is absorbed. Add a ladle full of hot stock, and the garlic. Continue to cook the rice stirring frequently, adding the stock as it is absorbed one ladle full at a time.
Toward the end of the cooking time add the chard leaves. When the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the walnuts, herbs and cheese if you choose. Add pepper to taste.
Cold, leftover risotto makes great bite sized treats to serve with drinks. Roll the cold risotto into bite sized balls then toss in flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Deep fry until golden then serve immediately.