This is a much prettier dish than the Mushroom Ragout! Beets are one of those vegetables that my family is not extremely fond of, but I really love them! So, I find inventive ways to add them to recipes. This means they usually need to take a back seat. However, this recipe brings the beets forward more and don’t you just LOVE the color? And for once, this does not involve adding cheese to the risotto, a perennial favorite finish to most risottos. Pair this with a nice wine and a side salad to round out the meal. You can make if “front and center” or as a side dish for you meat eaters.
- 2 large beets
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large chopped onion
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 c. arborio rice
- 2 c. vegetable broth – this is more than what you will need! But be prepared because you don’t want to run out
- 1 c. red wine – be sure to get all this in, it is more important than all that vegetable broth!
The first thing you need to do is roast the beets. Don’t start the risotto until the beets are ready! This can be done ahead of time and then leave them in the refrigerator for a couple of days, until you are ready to make the risotto. Wash the beets and trim the greens off close to the bulb. Save the greens! Wrap the beets in tin foil and place on a cookie sheet (to catch any drips as these wreak havoc on the bottom of the oven). Bake at 375 degrees (anybody who know how to make my Mac keyboard do the degree symbol… help…) for an hour, maybe more depending on the size of the beets. They should be tender when pierced with a fork. The skins should slip off easily after they are cooled – don’t burn your fingers! At this point, you can save them for later, or move ahead with the recipe. Wash the beet greens and save those too!
Place the vegetable broth to simmer in a separate pot and have a ladle or cup handy. Chop the onions, mince the garlic and chop the beets before you start. Also, coarsely chop the beet greens. Use a pot with a cover, not a fry pan, and heat the oil at med/high until it is shimmering. Add the chopped onion and garlic and stir frequently while they cook. If you want to use the beets green stems, chop and add with the onions. When the onion is translucent, add the rice. The heat should still be med/high. Stir the rice, don’t let it brown! Sauté for about 2 minutes with the onions and garlic. Add the chopped, cooked beets.
Tricks for Perfect Risotto: Don’t skip the part where you sauté the rice! Add hot liquid! And always add small amounts to just cover the rice. It should be almost completely absorbed before adding more liquid. When you get to about the amount of liquid that nearly double the rice quantity, start tasting. Risotto is done when the rice is al denté. That means just a bit of “chew” or substance at the core. If you cook past this, it will just taste like any cooked rice. The frequent stirring makes the risotto creamy. Again, if you cover and let it cook without stirring, it will be like a flavored rice dish and not creamy, chewy risotto! Now let’s move on with the recipe…
Turn the heat down to medium. Add enough hot broth to cover the rice and as it bubbles, add 1/4 c. of room temperature red wine (I don’t heat the wine because I am counting on the hot broth to compensate and I only add a little at a time with each broth addition). This will bubble and cook off quickly. Stir the mixture frequently. As it starts to dry, add more broth and wine. Keep doing this until you taste your risotto (see above Tricks for Perfect Risotto). With final broth addition, add the beet greens so they will just be wilted but not completely fall apart, which would happen if you added them too soon. The greens add a beautiful touch of color! not to mention the added vitamins and fiber. Salt and pepper to taste. If you want to add herbs or other spices, I recommend adding them early so the flavors meld.
Risotto is best when served immediately. Leftovers will not have the same texture as the rice gets softer as it sits. I hope these tips help with your risotto success and that you enjoy this beautiful dish!