I do believe that beets are my very favorite spring vegetable. They are quickly overshadowed by tomatoes in Summer, but in May and June I could eat beets every other day. Typically I am a fan of simply roasting the globes and tossing them on a salad with chevre and a light vinaigrette. But every now and then, when I am feeling the need for something a bit more toothy and substantial I'll whip up a batch of risotto. I love the sweetness that roasted beets lend to the savory dish, and of course the vibrant hue that even a picky toddler wouldn't be able to resist.
I"ll admit...I've already written about red beet risotto here, years ago, when we were growing beets in our very own garden. The recipe has changed a bit, and the photographs have certainly improved, but I still love that first post because of its words about our little veggie patch. We're still growing beets this year, although out on Maple Hill Farm rather than just to the side of our house. And this recipe is still a favorite, one that I felt was appropriate to bring up again now that we're at the height of beet season here in Charlottesville. Plus, I just couldn't resist the urge to re-photograph the dish in all of its neon-pink glory, in proper lighting, with less distraction. It deserves to be the star of the show!
These days, I'm adding the beet greens directly to the risotto, rather than cooking them up on the side. They don't add much flavor to the dish, but I do like the additional texture and all of the nutrients packed into the deep green leaves. Thanks to the New York Times for that little suggestion.
Red Beet Risotto
from the new york times
serves 4 as a main course
- 3/4 pound beets (1 small bunch of 3 to 4)
- 1 bunch beet greens, stemmed and washed (from your beets, if fresh and unwilted. leave them out if they are past their prime)
- 6 to 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock, as needed
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1-1/2 cups arborio rice
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- First, roast the beets. Preheat your oven to 400°. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes, until the beets are easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and allow to cool, then peel and dice the beets. The skin should slide off easily.
- Slice the greens into 1-inch strips, set aside.
- Place the stock in a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low.
- In a large, wide, heavy-bottom saute pan, heat the oil over medium. Add the onion and stir while cooking until it starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and the garlic and stir while cooking until the rice is separate and starting to crackle, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. When the wine has just about evaporated, add in 1 ladleful of stock (about 1/2 cup) just to cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly (adjust heat). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the stock is nearly absorbed, then add another ladleful. Continue to cook in this fashion, not too fast and not too slowly, stirring often and adding more stock when the rice is dry, for about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the diced beets and sliced greens. Add more stock and continue cooking as before, for another 10-15 minutes, adding stock when the rice is dry. The rice should be tender but not mushy, with no hardness at the middle. When it has reached the correct consistency, season with salt + pepper. Add the parmesan cheese and the parsley, and stir to combine. The rice should be creamy, if it is not, add another 1/2 cup of stock.
- Adjust seasonings and serve.