So what do you do when you don't like beets and your food co-op keeps providing them by the bushel? (I have to admit, I don't actually know how much a bushel is, but I suspect it is rather a large amount, so even though we get lots and lots of beets, I am probably exaggerating here.) Make something that I really really really like, and hope that it makes the boring beets more enjoyable. And so, beet risotto!
As a bonus, beet risotto is an incredibly striking shade of pink. So pretty! I once watched an episode of some horrible "Chefs in Beverley Hills" or something to that effect reality show on Bravo where these two chefs had to cater an all pink meal for an aging woman who was obsessed with pink and her gay boyfriend so they could celebrate how fabulous they were, and the whole meal was pretty much this exact color of pink. Like, the crazy lady actually had a set of pink paint chips that they had to adhere to. Totally insane, and she didn't even let them use food coloring.
Anyway, so basically there were some obligatory hijinks, but the chefs got it together and there so much pink on the plate, not to mention the matching plates and place settings, the whole effect was pretty bizarre and unappetizing, but just having the one pink risotto dish as part of the mail totally brought out my inner six year old girl. Also, it was a pretty decent tasting beet dish, mostly because it's a deliciously creamy risotto made with homemade chicken stock that has got lots of other delicious things besides beets in it like goat cheese, parmesan, dill, ginger, red onion and white wine. Got it?
So basically, a cheerful looking pink risotto makes me happy, and it is one of the most successful beet recipes I have ever made. I've included the recipe below, adapted fairly liberally from this blog.
Beet Risotto with Beet Greens and Goat Cheese
1 bunch beets and beet greens
4 Tbsp butter
1 red onion thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger grated
1 cups arborio rice
½ cup white wine
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 cups chicken stock (simmer with 4 bay leaves)
salt and pepper
½ cup grated parmigiano reggiano
½ lb goat cheese
1 handful dill
Cut off the beet greens, rinse and chop up, discarding the stems. Wash the beets and rubs with olive oil, salt and pepper, wrap in tin foil and roast at 400° for an hour. Once they've cooled down a little, you can rub the skins right off and grate them in a box grater or blend them up in a food processor if you have that kind of fancy stuff.
Meanwhile, get your chicken stock heated up on the stove. In a large pan, melt half of your butter and saute the red onions until they get nice and soft. Then add in the garlic and ginger for another minute or two, and then the rice. Keep stirring until the rice gets toasty, and then deglaze with the balsamic and wine, stirring over medium heat until the wine is almost completely absorbed by the rice.
This begins the usual risotto process: add a ladel of warm stock to the rice, stirring periodically, and once its all been absorbed, repeat. Keep going until you've got a nicely cooked risotto, soft but not mushy. It should still have a slight bite to it. When it's almost cooked through, you can add the beet greens, cheeses and dill. Your risotto will turn a brilliant pink, and be just about finished. Simply finish with the rest of the butter, some salt and pepper, an extra handful of grated parmesan, and a little parsley for garnish!