I knew I wanted to make a beet risotto for Valentine's Day because it would be fancy enough for a nice dinner and festive enough for the holiday because of its beautiful colour. I had a hard time choosing a recipe because there seem to be so many different ways of making beet risotto: boiling the beets and using their cooking water, roasting them and just adding the chopped beets at the end, pureeing them and mixing that into the rice as it cooks, etc.. Fortunately, my sister had recently tried a recipe from All Seasons Cuisine that she said was amazing, and after checking it out and discovering that it had goat cheese in it, I was immediately sold!
This recipe combined a couple of the methods I had seen in others - beets are roasted before cooking the rice, then some of the beets are pureed and mixed into the cooked rice, while the rest of them are diced and tossed in at the end. I loved the way the pureed beets thickened and coloured the rice, and I especially loved the textural contrast that the diced beets added. The original recipe also called for the addition of beet greens (which is why theirs looks darker than mine). Unfortunately my beets didn't come with their greens attached so I had to leave them out, but I think they would have added another nice layer of texture.
This post is already getting too long and I haven't even told you how this tasted yet, so let me make it clear right now that this tastes amazing! Because a lot of goat cheese is added, I found it to be the predominant flavour over the beets. I was fine with that because I absolutely love goat cheese and it added a nice richness to the risotto, but if you really want the beets to be the star of this dish, you could simply omit the cheese. I tasted the risotto before adding any cheese and it was still delicious! Either way, this is sure to be the star of your Valentine's dinner, or any other day's meal! And served with my beet hummus as an appetizer and cranberry bars for dessert, you could have a complete pink meal (without any food colouring!) for your loved one(s), or show yourself some love and save it all for yourself :)
Beet & Goat Cheese Risotto
Adapted from All Seasons Cuisine
Serves about 4-5 as a side dish, or 2-3 as a main
1 pound red beets (about 3 medium beets)
Greens from the beets (optional – I omitted)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
4 cups vegetable stock (I used one 900mL container)
1/2 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
1/4 to 1/3 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional for a cheesier flavour)
Handful of chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F. If beets still have greens attached, trim them off and set them aside. Wrap beets in foil, like a packet, and set on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 1 hour, or until beets are tender. Remove and let cool slightly.
Trim the ends off the beets and peel off the skin. Dice about two-thirds of the beets and set aside. Roughly chop the remaining third of the beets and place in the small bowl of a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a dash each of salt and pepper, then puree until smooth. Set aside.
If using the beet greens, wash and dry them, thinly slice them, and set aside.
Add vegetable broth to a medium pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep it gently simmering as you make the risotto.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large deep skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened but not browned, about 4-5 minutes. Add the rice and continuously stir to toast, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Begin adding vegetable broth to the rice, a small ladle at a time, stirring rice constantly. When each addition of liquid is absorbed by the rice, add another small ladleful. Continue adding broth and stirring for about 20 minutes total, until rice is creamy and al dente. Have a kettle of boiled water nearby so that if you run out of vegetable stock, you can add water from the kettle instead.
Add beet purée, diced beets, beet greens (if using), and goat cheese to the rice. Stir until goat cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Taste, and if you would like a stronger cheese flavour, add the parmesan cheese and stir. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
Serve warm, garnished with parsley.