With fall, comes root vegetables. Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again. The time of year when a trip to the local farmer’s market results in heavy bags laden with sturdy produce and most leafy greens now come attached to a hardy taproot. It’s the time of year when I always forget this fact, and think, “Yeah! I’ll bring the baby to the market in the Ergo carrier and we’ll have a great time!” Many pounds of produce later, my shoulders hurt and bags are cutting into my hands and I’m counting the steps back to the car where I can drop it all. (Except the baby. Never drop the baby.)
But oh, how I love those root veggies… Especially beets. Earthy and rich, sweet when roasted and the most gorgeous bright magenta – how can you go wrong? Well, according to M, it’s just all wrong. He takes his own bowl of risotto before I add the beets. Sacrilege, I tell you… But I love this recipe, regardless. And even little, increasingly picky, E gobbles it up. Pink rice! Delicious.
Some notes! First, I used a “bunch” of beets. And yes, I realize that is not a very specific term and that your bunch may be much smaller or larger than my bunch. And yes, it’s one of my pet peeves when people don’t include more formal measurements in recipes. (A bunch! What’s a bunch? Sheesh.) But in this recipe, it really doesn’t matter. You can go with a very small bunch of beets, or pile them in. It’s really a matter of personal preference. For reference, my “bunch” of beets, once roasted and diced, equaled somewhere around 2-3 cups. Second, I am a big believer in the “invisible cheese multiplier.” You know what I mean. When you read a recipe that calls for cheese and then you add twice as much? Because, cheese. But here, I’ve already done that. Just FYI. You’re welcome to add more but…dare I say that might be just a bit too much cheese?
roasted beet risotto
adapted from Gourmet, Nov. 2004
- 1 bunch beets, trimmed, leaving 1 inch of stems attached (see note above)
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425°F. Tightly wrap beets in a double layer of foil and roast on a baking sheet until very tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool to warm in foil package, about 20 minutes. Beets can also be roasted ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until needed. (I roasted mine the previous day.) When beets are cool enough to handle, peel them, discarding stems and root ends, then cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
Warm broth and water to a bare simmer. Keep simmering lightly, covered.
Melt butter with oil in a wide, heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.
Stir in a ladle full of broth and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is tender and creamy-looking, about 20 minutes. (Reserve leftover broth.)
Stir in beets and watch your delicious risotto turn bright pink! Cook, stirring, until heated through. Thin, if necessary, with leftover broth, then stir in cheese and remove from heat. Add salt and pepper, as desired.