I absolutely adore beets. They’re sweet but still savory, fragrant and gorgeously colored. I live in New York, so when I grab lunch from the place around the corner, 99% of the time it’s a build-your-own-salad. And 100% of the time, one of my 6 ingredients is beets. But you guys, it snowed this weekend. Snowed. In October. If this is a sign of things to come, I’m moving to Costa Rica for the winter. Well, maybe not, but at minimum, I’m putting away the salads for a few months. It is clearly no longer salad season; it’s risotto season.
Risotto is one of my favorite cold weather dishes for a few reasons. First, you can put anything in it. As long as you have arborio rice and some chicken stock, you can make risotto. It can be as simple as lemon and parmesan or as fancy as lobster. Whatever you have on hand, you can stir into the creamy rice.
Second, it’s creamy, but doesn’t have to be a caloric disaster. Sure, sometimes I’ll put 6 cups of cheese in there, but really, the creaminess comes from the starches in the rice, and too much cheese (or cream, gasp!) is completely unnecessary.
Finally, it can be a side or a main course. You can make some to go along with grilled shrimp, or you can spoon yourself a huge warm bowl and stuff your face with it. I generally go with the latter.
I’ve made a lot of versions of this risotto. Sometimes I roast the beets first (for flavor!). Sometimes I grate half and cube half of the beets (for texture!). Sometimes I add herbs or goat cheese or other root veggies. This is probably the simplest version; no pre-roasting or chopping required. I love the tangy stinky blue cheese with the slightly sweet beets. And the color, oh the color. I could stare at it all day….at least until lunchtime.
Beet Risotto with Blue Cheese
I was out of white wine, but under normal circumstances, wouldn’t dream of making risotto without it. I’ve included it in the recipe below.
1 very large shallot (or a few small ones)
6 c. low-sodium chicken broth2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 lbs beets, peeled and shredded (I used a food processor, but you can use a cheese grater if you want)
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 c. arborio rice
1/2 c. grated parmesan
juice of 1 lemon
4 oz blue cheese
- Place the chicken broth in a small saucepan over low heat until simmering
- In a large heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat
- When hot, add the onion and cook until beginning to soften (~5-8 min)
- Add the garlic and cook 1 min
- Add the beets and saute for a minute or two
- Add the rice and stir to coat with oil
- Add the wine and stir until absorbed
- Add a ladle-full of chicken broth to the rice/beets and stir until all the liquid is absorbed. Repeat, stirring in one ladle of broth at a time, until all broth is absorbed and the rice is creamy and tender (but not too soft). It’s important to let each ladle of broth absorb completely before adding the next ladle. It’s also important to stir…it make the rice creamy. This usually takes me about 3o minutes. It’s possible you’ll need more or less broth, so taste as you go
- Stir in the parmesan and lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper
- Scoop into bowls, sprinkle with blue cheese, and serve