Sunday, August 11, 2013
Beets. I like beets, but in my family I still hear the common refrain: "Ugh, beets. They taste like dirt."
As if a little dirt is a bad thing?
I'm not a beet pusher - with their distinct earthy taste, some people just don't like them - but like any ingredient, a properly prepared beet can be a revelation. Some who claim not to like beets will still dig into a jar of beet pickles. I had a beautiful beet carpaccio this summer at La Grolla Italian restaurant in St. Paul - even my not-beet-loving dinner companion (hi Marianne!) had to admit it was delicious. And in perhaps the ultimate trick to convert any beet doubters, you can make this gorgeous ruby red beet risotto.
Risotto is a heavy-rotation meal in my house. It's easy to make, it's extremely versatile, and you don't really need a recipe for it once you have the basics down pat. But this beet risotto is something magical: the deep flavor of the beets is contrasted perfectly with the lemon, which elevates and brightens the dish. Add in the fact that you can incorporate the beet greens too and even not-beet-lovers will have to admit, it's darn near a perfect summer meal with a glass of cold dry white wine to keep your entree company.
A word to the wise: you can use basically any greens in this recipe, as you'll see below, but remember some greens like kale should be added towards the START of cooking, while others like beet greens should be added towards the END of cooking. I've made the mistake of adding beet greens at the start of cooking and they were overcooked by the time the rice was done.
Beet Risotto with Greens
Recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by the vegetable queen, Deborah Madison
5 1/2 to 6 1/2 c stock
3 T butter or a mixture of butter and olive oil
1/2 c finely diced onion
1 and 1/2 c Arborio rice
1/2 c dry white wine
2 T chopped parsley
2 T chopped basil or
1 T dried 2-3 medium beets, peeled and grated
2-3 c greens (beet, chard, kale or spinach), stems removed, chopped finely
Salt and freshly milled pepper
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan
Have the stock simmering on the stove.
Heat the butter in a wide pot, add the onion and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the rice, stir to coat it well, and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer until it’s absorbed, then stir in half the parsley, the basil, grated beets, and the chard or kale.
Add 2 cups stock, cover and cook at a lively simmer until the stock is absorbed. Begin adding the remaining stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed before adding the next. When you have 1 cup left, add the beet greens or spinach. Taste for salt, season with pepper, then stir in the lemon zest and juice to taste. Serve dusted with the cheese and the remaining parsley.
Posted by Rhubarb and Venison at 8:20 AM