Here’s a wild rice with oyster mushrooms dish that won’t bore you to death. One inspired from a trip with friends to Istanbul where we experienced some of the most amazing meals — modern Turkish ones, resembling the “Ottolenghi way”.
My friend Anna has been there about a zillion times so knows all the best spots. We had so many amazing meals it was hard to keep track. Two of my favorite spots were Gaspar (in Karaköy), a swanky mix of bar, lounge, ultra-cool restaurant, where we had an amazing dinner with a memorable spicy sweet corn dip. Something I never would have imagined could be so incredibly delicious. Another unforgettable dinner was spent at Leb-I Derja. Not only do they have a fantastic view, their menu, in all its creativity, is full of regional and ethnic specialties using organic ingredients. There we had an amazing appetizer of quinoa filled vine leaves with aubergine and cherries. So good, it has also landed on my “to-try-out-myself” list.
The unexpected star of the weekend was a dish called “Black & White Rice” featuring oyster mushrooms and Swiss chard (aka silverbeet). Fantastic! I was so jealous that Anna ordered it and not me. Here is a girl who grew up in a happy mushroom picking family who ate them by the barrel full, leaving her later traumatized at the slightest sight of a mushroom. And she loved this dish! Okay maybe not so passionately that she refused to share. I loved it that much. I grew up on wild rice. Healthy tasting, boring tasting, dry tasting wild rice. The Uncle Ben’s fast cooking version. Just add water. This was far beyond that. Hallelujah.
So here is my version of this tasty dish that thankfully never managed to fade in memory.
Substitutes for Swiss Chard
If Swiss chard isn’t your thing, you can substitute any greens here: collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, or kale. All these greens are rich in nutrients, including folate, magnesium, potassium and vitamins E, K, B2 and B6.
TIP: do not to wash your mushrooms! They are like sponges. If they have dirt on them, simply brush them lightly with a kitchen towel or a soft mushroom brush.
Black & White Rice with Oyster Mushrooms and Swiss Chard
Serves 4-6, as a side (or two if you eat this as a main)
1 1/2 cups natural long-grain and wild rice blend (I use a 80/20 blend) (200 g)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (750 ml)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
350 g oyster mushrooms, sliced
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 bunch Swiss chard, green parts only, coarsely chopped (can be substituted with kale)
1/2 cup dry white wine (125 ml)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (about a handful)
1. Cook the rice blend according to the package directions, using the broth rather than water. Cook until rice is tender and liquid absorbed.
NOTE: Depending on what type of wild rice you buy, cooking time can vary from 40-55 minutes. Start preparing the rest of the dish about 15 minutes before the rice is finished cooking.
2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes more. Add the wine and Swiss chard, increase the heat to medium-hight and simmer until wilted and wine reduced, about 3-4 minutes. Add the rice to the mushroom mixture and toss to combine, then stir in the parsley.
3. Serve while warm and enjoy!