I recently jumped on the beet bandwagon. I’ve never been a big fan of beets on their own, but thought that maybe my perceptions were based on childhood memories of slimy purple slices slithering out of a can. I figured it was time to give them another try, and one of the ways I wanted to use them was in risotto. I based my recipe on this beet risotto recipe and was pleased with the results. The bright color of the risotto is stunning, and any beet flavor is pretty masked by the other ingredients, making this a great dish for beet lovers and beet haters alike. Plus, if you take it a step further, you can make my beet arancini appetizer that pairs beets with goat cheese: a classic combination, and for good reason.
1 large beet (6 to 8 oz), roasted and peeled
32 oz chicken or vegetable stock
2 T butter
1 small onion, minced
1 C Arborio rice
1 bay leaf
½ C dry white wine
½ to 1 t salt (adjust to taste)
1 small sprig fresh rosemary (optional)
¾ C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cut the roasted beet into eighths and place in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth, scraping the sides often and adding up to ¼ C water to maintain a smooth consistency. Set aside or refrigerate until later.
In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken or vegetable stock to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Keep the stock at a low simmer until it’s all been used.
In a large pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and add the rice and bay leaf. Cook, stirring, until the rice is lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.
Pour in the white wine and stir until most of it has absorbed into the rice. Add the warm stock, one ladle at a time. Stir frequently until the stock has been fully absorbed into the rice each time before adding more.
Keep adding the stock and stirring, and with the last ladle of stock, add the sprig of rosemary, if using, to the pan. Continue stirring until the risotto is creamy but its texture is still firm to the bite. Add the beet puree, mix it in well, and keep stirring until the risotto is creamy and soft, with an al dente bite to it. Stir in the grated parmesan; add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf and rosemary. Enjoy!
Step by Step Details
Puree the roasted beet, adding water as needed to smooth it out. Mine was pretty chunky, which is fine.
The risotto uses pretty basic ingredients, but be sure to use Arborio (risotto) rice. It’s got the extra starch that is released by all the stirring, and that’s what gives the risotto its ultra-creamy consistency.
As for wine, I would stay away from anything too sweet, too fruity or too oaky. You want it to enhance the flavor, not overpower it. Stick with a mild, somewhat neutral, dry white, like pinot grigio. I used up a Soave I had in the fridge, and it worked great.
Melt the butter in a large pan over medium-high heat, then add the onion. A pan with tall, straight sides will help to keep the rice in the pan with all the stirring you’ll be doing. Once the onion is softened, lower the heat to medium and add the rice and bay leaf.
Pour in the white wine. Notice my stock simmering in the pan on the back burner and my beet puree off to the side, just waiting to join the fun.
Stir until most of it has absorbed into the rice. Add the warm stock, one ladle at a time.
Stir frequently until the stock has been fully absorbed into the rice, and only then can you add the next ladle. You can tell when it’s ready if you scrape the pan and it takes a while for the gap to fill.
Add more stock, stir until absorbed, and repeat until the last ladle of stock, when you can add the sprig of rosemary, if using, to the pan. If you don’t like rosemary, don’t use it, but it does add a mild woody, pine flavor that goes well with the earthiness of the beets.
Continue stirring until the risotto is creamy but still firm to the bite, then add the beet puree.
Stir it in well and watch the color transform to a beautiful reddish purple. That looks good enough to eat!
Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese (or crumbled goat cheese) and a sprig of rosemary (or something else fresh and green). Enjoy!