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beetroot, goat cheese & spinach buckwheat risotto

beetroot, goat cheese & spinach buckwheat risotto | jessica cox

About three years ago I tried out for Masterchef and found myself selected to audition here in Brisbane. I only told the smallest handful of people. I knew the chances of getting through were minute, so I wanted to keep it on the down low.

I was asked to make a dish to bring along, and then to have a dish selected for the next day that I would make on camera. As you can imagine, I was a bundle of nerves. On the day of auditions I felt like vomiting and going to the toilet about a thousand times over. I decided to make my Double Chocolate Coffee Torte to take to day 1, so I nervously waited in the audition space with lots of other edgy people. We were selected to go through in groups of around 20 people. Within our groups we had to talk about our dish and answer any questions that the panel asked of us. Then of course they tasted our dish. At the end of this session we were told if we were in or out. I was in.

press PLAY for step-by-step instructions to make risotto

I had this elated moment of triumph. All those nerves were still there, but now they were like enthusiastic butterflies. I had just one more step involving another more serious panel interview with the producers before I would be asked to come back on day 2 and make my second chosen dish, buckwheat risotto.

Leading up to this audition I had made this risotto numerous times for my family who would critique it for me. ‘It needs a little of this’ or ‘a little less of that’. The dish I had chosen was actually my mushroom and goats cheese buckwheat risotto w truffle oil; and if I do say so myself, it is sensational.

So, I went into this second panel interview ready for the questions and pumped for round two. What happened next however was a train wreck. I was not equipped at all for the types of questions that were asked of me. Without going into details (as I am sure I signed something somewhere about this process and am already walking in a red zone), the questions had nothing to do with my cooking, my passion for food and nutrition. They were more personal and of the digging for dirt kind. I froze. I’m a private person at the best of times, so when complete strangers start asking me about my private life I basically go into defensive mode. I knew I had blown it. I wasn’t giving them the juicy answers they wanted.

I left that audition feeling so deflated. They told me I would receive a phone call about whether I had made it through to day 2, but I knew it was over. I still waited painstakingly for the phone to ring, but as the hours went by I lost hope. It sounds so dramatic now in hindsight, but I was so fired up for it. I am the sort of person that goes after what I want.

My husband who is the antithesis of me had all this brilliant hindsight ideas of what I could have said in that interview. Let’s just say they were wildly entertaining and if it was him in the audition room they would have said ‘this guy is totally TV material!’.

Why am I sharing this now? Well, one because buckwheat risotto was so bound up in this memory for quite some time, in fact to the point that I didn’t want to make it for months. Secondly, life has its own way of working things out. Yeah sure it would have been a remarkable experience, but if I had done Masterchef my incredible business that I am so proud of would not be here to the extent that it is today. I have so many exciting opportunities and projects ahead, and I cannot wait to embrace them with the same die-hard enthusiasm that I went into those auditions with. Thirdly, I hope my story encourages you to follow your own dreams, as even when we fall on our face we can always pick ourselves up, learn from it and charge on.

beetroot, goat cheese & spinach buckwheat risotto

Print Recipe

serves 2
preparation time
10 minutes + beetroot cooking time
cooking time
20 minutes


  • 1/2 cup buckwheat groats, well rinsed
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 large beetroot, or 2 small beetroots pre roasted and cubed
  • 1 cup baby spinach (kale is also a nice substitute)
  • 2 tablespoons oregano leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup soft goats cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated pecorino
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • salt & pepper for seasoning


{see video post above for detailed, step by step instructions}

Place a saucepan filled with the stock on to heat. Once it comes to the boil, turn it to a very low simmer.

Take another saucepan and place it on medium heat. Add the oil, then onion and garlic and sauté in the olive oil. Once the onion is slightly transparent add the buckwheat and stir continuously for 1-2 minutes until the buckwheat softens just a little.  Continue to add the hot stock in generous ladle size serves and to stir the stock through until the buckwheat takes up the stock.

Continue with this process of adding stock until the buckwheat becomes softened through with slight crunch to the bite ( I suggest tasting a little to see if you are at this point). During this process ensure to season the buckwheat with some salt and pepper. The process should take approximately 15-20 minutes. Please note, there may be some stock left over or alternately you may need to add more, dependent on the consistency of your risotto.

Once the risotto is at this stage (as described above), turn to a low heat and stir through beetroot, spinach, oregano, parsley, goat’s cheese and pine nuts. Give this a few minutes to heat through, then place lid on saucepan, turn off the heat and leave the risotto for 1-2 minutes to relax.

Serve the risotto topped with the remaining parsley, grated pecorino and a final drizzle of olive oil and cracked pepper.

Hint: Traditionally a risotto should be oozy on the plate when served.

nutritional information

  • Using buckwheat in place of Arborio rice in risotto adds more fibre to this traditional dish and also amps up the nutritional status, thanks to the high amounts of B vitamins and magnesium in the buckwheat. Buckwheat is also high in protein in so far as grains (or pseudo grains go), so combined with the added goats cheese this dish provides a solid about of vegetarian based protein.
  • Beetroots are a rich source of folate, manganese and potassium. Beetroot is also a rich source of glycine betaine, a phytochemical compound. Betaine can help lower homocysteine levels (a cardiovascular risk marker in blood tests), which has been associated with promoting clotting and plaque formation detrimental to blood vessels. Betaine additionally supports the glutathione pathway of detoxification in the liver making it a fabulous choice for liver health.
  • Oregano is a fantastic herb shown to have potent antimicrobial activities. Studies have found oregano effective for treating parasites such as blastocystis hominis, a common parasite that still till this day controversial in regards to its recognition regarding causation of digestive issues. At the JCN clinic we use oregano oil for specific types of microbial overgrowths with positive outcomes, of course in unison with individualised treatment and dietary protocols.

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Jessica Cox is a qualified practicing Nutritionist with a Bachelor Health Science (Nutrition) and over 15 years of clinical experience. She is the founder and director JCN Clinic, published author and established recipe developer. Jessica is well respected within health and wellness space for her no fad approach and use of evidence-based nutrition.

Jessica Cox

Jessica Cox is a qualified practicing Nutritionist with a Bachelor Health Science (Nutrition) and over 15 years of clinical experience. She is the founder and director JCN Clinic, published author and established recipe developer. Jessica is well respected within health and wellness space for her no fad approach and use of evidence-based nutrition.

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4 years ago

This sounds delicious but no matter how much I try I can’t stomach goats cheese. What would be a suitable replacement?

4 years ago
Reply to  Jessica Cox

Is it possible to replace with another cheese like Parmesan or like danish feta?
I do like my cheese just not when it’s from a goat! Haha! thanks!

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