Mushroom Risotto Pie or the Power of Leftovers

When I came to Italy, I was amazed how horribly Italians waste food. My flat mates would throw away everything that they had not finished during the dinner; in my perspective you can eat the dish even the day after. From time to time I saw in the garbage a whole loaf of bread; that made me absolutely sick… At least you can give the bread to birds. The fist moths of living together with my Italian bf were a constant fight for the food leftovers – I told we wouldn’t through them away, which confuzzeled him a lot (confuzzeled = confused + puzzled). In general, I can though away only something that is gone, but I prefer to utilize everything before it is wasted. This has nothing to do with greed; it is a matter of respect.
My grandmother was just 4 when the war started – big enough to remember everything. She never spoke about the war, even though many of people of her age or older told us how important it was to keep on studying and helping adults in watching out the fire. The only thing she ever had told me about the war was bread related. She once, when I was a small girl, tried to explain me what was responsibility and that life requires trade-offs. She told me they got a piece of bread per day, and they were three: my granny, her sister and their mother (my grandgrandmother). Each day my grandgrandmother would split this tiny peace in three unequal parts. My grandmother told me, that she was a kid and she was so hungry, as she was growing, but already then she understood that she had right to take just the smallest part of the bread. Her mother was working hard, her sister was studying in school – in her eyes they needed the food more, than herself.

Those 125 grams

During the siege of Leningrad around 5,000 people per DAY died because of hunger only. The piece of bread, 70% of which was not even wheat, but wood shredding, was the only food for the citizens for 900 days. In total, over 800,000 died from starvation. There is no single person with a normal upbringing in St Petersburg who can through away a piece of bread. It has nothing to do with greed; just the price of this bread is way too high to afford putting it to garbage. It is like spitting in your own history. Each time, when you through away good food, you show fantastic disrespect to those people, who are dying because they don’t have it. Since when have people forgotten that for centuries food was synonym for life?
Well, back to the recipe now. What if you cooked too much of risotto? Next day it is not tasty anymore. Solution is an absolutely fantastic risotto pie.
Time of preparation: 20 minutes Difficulty: Easy
Mushroom risotto leftovers or
Rice____________300 grams
Dry mushrooms__ 30 grams
Goat Cheese_____100 grams
1. If you prepare risotto from scratch: put mushrooms into boiling water for 30 minutes. After drain, and save the water. Chop onion; pour oil in the pot, fry onion and mushrooms. Add rice; mix so that every grain is coated with oil. Pour in a splash of broth from mushrooms. Constantly mix till the water evaporates, add another splash then, mix till the liquid evaporates… Repeat this sequence till rice is cooked. Add salt, pepper to taste.
2. Transfer the half of prepared risotto/leftover risotto into the baking dish, put sliced soft goat cheese, sprinkle with dried oregano (any herb you like/have next to you) and cover with the remaining risotto. If you want, sprinkle with grated parmiggiano. Bake on 180C (350F) for about 20 minutes or till golden crust. Super good cold, hot, and on the next day.
For utilizing stale bread you can check stuffed courgettes recipe, for using rice check oven-baked rice, if you have some fried vegetables left roll them into strudel, a lonely cooked potato or a lonely baked aubergine will fit into Balkan cheese pie.



9 thoughts on “Mushroom Risotto Pie or the Power of Leftovers

  1. Hi Anna I love your recipe and love your post too. thanks for that story about your grandmother and about the war times. Yes I absolutely agree with you – we should think of all the hungry people in the world before we throw food away.!

    • Thank you very much for your kind words! I think it depends on the country: people from the poorer countries, even when they are rich, tend to respect food more. People from wealthy countries, even in every wealthy country there are the poor, tend to behave disgustingly towards food.

  2. I don’t throw away perfectly good uneaten food after a meal; I wrap it up, put it in the fridge, and eat it for breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Some of this is because I hate to waste food, but some of it is because I am lazy and deliberately cook more than I need so I have leftovers, so I don’t have to create afresh the next day!

    Italians are wasteful? I am surprised. Americans are much worse, I think. As those who lived through the deprivation die, and the population is full not only of those who have never been hungry but who eat every two hours, the quantity and scope of food waste becomes horrifying.

    • Italians reached the level of hedonism impossible even to imagine – and not that expected from a Catholic country. They are not able to trade-off the smallest, even during the Fast the only rule is not to eat meat on Friday – and this is bothering, they can’t keep it. So I am the best Catholic in the country, not being a Catholic at all. 🙂 🙂
      And when it comes to Americans, I guess it is just lack of the food culture, which is very high in Italy. They eat at certain time, certain things, it is a holy ritual
      I usually with intention cook more to have a lunch next day. Practicalities, practicalities 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing this story of your grandmother and times of war, and for the wonderful recipe.

    Both my Polish and Italian grandmothers believed in saving leftovers, and in the tiny town where I live in NY state, in my home and among my friends, we eat leftovers regularly, usually for lunch but sometimes for dinner, too, like tonight. 🙂 I sometimes cook more than we can eat in one sitting to save myself some work the next day especially if it is something like chili or soup 🙂

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