Golden Beet Risotto

The golden beets have been so sweet and irresistable, I’ve been serving them nonstop in one form or other for the last couple of weeks.

Risotto is the perfect way to showcase them.  Their sweet earthiness is the perfect complement to the combination of rice, white wine and parmigiano cheese.  The added bonus is that I can use their beautiful green leaves as part of the risotto.  If you’re fortunate enough to find beets with beautiful, healthy green  tops, don’t ever throw them away.

Beet greens take a little work to prepare, but are well worth the effort.  Simply wash them in several changes of water, until no soil remains at the bottom of the bowl.  Drop into salted boiling water.  They need to boil longer than most greens because their stems are very sturdy.  You want to cook them until the stems are tender.  Drain, rinse with cold water, and squeeze in small bunches until no more water remains.

The risotto technique is the same one I’ve shown you in prior posts, but I’ll go through it here from start to finish.  The beets and greens simply get folded in during the last minutes of cooking.

As a main course tonight, I served simple seared Montauk Sea Scallops with sauteed Romanesco Broccoli and carrots.

As for the risotto, one of my more discriminating guests proclaimed this the best risotto she’d ever had–I had to agree!

Golden Beet Risotto

serves 6

4 medium golden beets with greens removed and set aside

2 tsps olive oil

2 1/2 c arborio rice

1/2 red onion, finely diced

6 tbls butter

1 c white wine

8  cups chicken broth

1 c grated parmigiano for sprinkling

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash beets, then place on aluminum foil, 2 to a packet, and drizzle with olive oil.  Seal the packet tightly and roast on a sheet pan (in case they leak) for 1 to 1/2 hours, or until beets are springy and tender when squeezed (alternatively, open one of the packets and pierce the largest beet with a paring knife–if it goes through the beet without any resistance, they’re all cooked).

Set aside the sealed packets and allow to cool for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Rub with paper towels to remove skins.  cut into 1/2″ dice and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside until ready to assemble the risotto.

To clean the greens, chop into large segments about 1 1/2″ long.

Wash in a mixing bowl in several changes of water until no soil remains.  Drop into boiling salted water and cook for about 15 minutes, or until stems are soft.

Rinse with cold water and squeeze in small bunches to remove excess water.  Chop into 1/2″ dice and set aside until ready to prepare risotto.

To prepare risotto, bring chicken broth to a simmer.

In a high sided saute pan, on medium heat, bring onions and butter to a sizzle and saute for about 5 minutes or until onions turn translucent and begin to wilt.

 Turn heat to medium high and add the rice.  Saute for 4 – 5 minutes or until the rice begins to pop and appears translucent.

Add wine and reduce for a minute or so until wine is evaporated.  Add  1 cup of broth and stir.

As soon as the first installment of broth is added, set your kitchen timer to 10 minutes.  Continue adding broth and stirring during that time.

When 10 minutes have elapsed, add beets and greens.

Stir to combine.

Turn off heat and cover for 5 minutes.  At the end of 5 minutes, add a bit more simmering broth to loosen the mixture, as well as a good handful of the grated cheese.

Ladle into warm bowls and sprinkle generously with additional grated parmigiano.

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