The Art of Food

Wild Mushroom and Salami Risotto with Basil Oil

& a Look at My Box Art: A take on 17th Century Still Life




I simply adore risotto and when I was in the possession of wild mushrooms and salami I could not resist the temptation of making some. I love the flavour of the salty salami with the earthy flavour of wild mushrooms.



I originally bought the wild mushrooms and salami for a range of still life photographs I wanted to shoot. I love art and although I am very fond of modern art in particular, I also love classical still lifes of the 17th century. A lot of the still lifes of that century contain skulls, animals and pheasants which (unfortunately) I do not have (yet!); however, I was, and am, interested in the grade and light of the still lifes: the dramatic contrasts between light and dark ( or chiaroscuro if you want to be poncy).



My own touch on them (aside from leaving out the skulls and animals) is that I shot them in a wooden box – I like the way the box creates a confided space. It’s also quite challenging to arrange the props in a a box and still have a composition that works.



I bought the delicious cured meats (salami included) from Richard Bosman’s stall at the Biscuit Mill – I suggest if you haven’t tried his cured meat yet that you hurry on and your yourself some this weekend. I had to try so hard not to eat the meat while I was styling it. The mushrooms are also from the Biscuit Mill and most of the props (like the olives).




Wild Mushroom and Salami Risotto with Basil Oil:



For the Mushrooms:


300g of assorted wild mushrooms, chopped

1 tbls olive oil

1 tbls butter

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tbls chopped origanum

1 tsp of nutmeg, grated

zest and juice of half a lemon



60g salami sausage, chopped (I used a Richard Bosman salami – which I highly recommend)




30g dried porcini mushrooms

2 tbls olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tbls chopped origanum

300g arborio rice

salt and pepper, to taste

½ cup of dry white wine

1 litre chicken stock

100g Parmesan cheese, grated

100g butter, cubed


Basil Oil (serving suggestion):


20 large basil leaves

100ml extra virgin olive oil




In a pan, fry the salami for about 3 minutes. Discard the fat and set the cooked salami on the side.


In a saucepan heat the olive oil and butter. Add the mushrooms, garlic and origanum and cook for 5 minutes, add the nutmeg, lemon zest and juice and cook for another two minutes. Set aside.


Prepare your risotto:


Rehydrate the mushrooms by soaking them in 500ml of lukewarm water for about thirty minutes.


In a heavy-based saucepan, heat the olive oil, add the onion, garlic and origanum, season and saute for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.


Add the rice and turn up the heat; allow the rice to fry a bit while constantly stirring. Add the wine and cook on high till the alcohol has burnt off (about 3 minutes). Add the re-hydrated mushrooms.


Add the soaking liquid to the stock and heat together.


Turn down the heat to a medium simmer and add your first ladle of stock (stock and soaking liquid) to the rice. Keep adding ladles of stock allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take about 15 minutes.


Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite (al dente)


Just before the rice is cooked, stir in the fried wild mushrooms and fried salami pieces, taste and add seasoning if needed.


Remove from heat. Add the Parmesan and cubes of butter, don’t stir, place the lid on the saucepan and leave for 2 -3 minutes.


Place the basil in a food processor or blender and blitz. Add the olive oil and blend for about a minute.


Take the lid off the risotto and vigorously stir in the butter and Parmesan (the butter will be melted a bit) – this process makes gives your risotto a silky, creamy texture.


Plate up and drizzle with the basil oil.









Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *