Love is in the air this weekend… or is it in the risotto pot? Well this risotto is perfect throughout the winter months when the nights are dark and frosty but it makes a stunning and thoroughly comforting Valentine’s meal for two.
Beetroot has a lovely sweet earthy flavour and that colour screams of passion. Here I’ve blended it with lots of chopped dill, the subtle aniseed flavour works beautifully with the beetroot. Then I’ve topped the finished dish with a generous quenelle of crème fraîche to make the whole dish even more unctuous. Perfect for spoiling somebody special.
Over the years, I have become conscious about how I source the produce I cook with. Eating seasonal and local produce has become a way of my life. Beetroot is more usually associated with the depths of winter, but it’s in spring and summer that it is at its best and sweetest.
These beets tick all my boxes as I can easily source them from my local farm shop ‘plastic-free’. That’s my small step towards sustainable cooking. I still need to get risotto rice from the supermarket but our local has started selling it in it’s ‘bring your own’ container section rather than the normal single-use plastic bags.
I must admit I found risotto a bit bland when I first tried it but those lovely beets, a home-made veg stock together with home-grown dill and lemon thyme all help to pack this dish with flavour. It’s also a feast for the eyes, Aarya loves her ‘purple risotto’, and has even started pronouncing it in an Italian accent- ‘Rissotttto’😄
Beetroot risottoCourse: MainCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
450g fresh beetroot, peeled and diced into 1.5cm pieces
1 large onion finely diced
2 sticks of celery finely diced
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
175g Carnaroli Rice
750ml Chicken or Vegetable stock
50g Parmesan grated
Handful of chopped dill
100g crème fraîche
- Toss the chopped beetroot in olive oil and lay on a flat tray then put in a pre-heated oven at 180 celsius. Bake for one hour until soft.
- When cooked blend about 3/4 of the beetroot to a puree.
- Heat some olive oil in a wide deep pan and gently fry the onion, celery and garlic until translucent but not brown.
- Add the rice, stir for 2-3 minutes until it absorbs some of the oil.
- Begin to add the stock a little at a time, stir, and repeat when the stock has been mostly absorbed by the rice. After around 15-20 minutes it should be cooked. Add the chopped beetroot and puree towards the end of cooking. Aim for a reasonably fluid consistency. Adjust the seasoning.
- Turn off the heat, add a knob of butter and 3/4 of the parmesan, 3/4 of the dill, stir and cover for 2 minutes.
- Serve straight away garnished with a quenelle of crème fraîche, dill and parmesan.
- Risotto should be a little runny with a little ‘bite’ in the rice grains, if it sticks to a spoon in a lump then it’s too stodgy. After cooking the rice continues to absorb liquid so the secret to a good consistency is to eat it straight away. Leave it for half an hour and it will have lost it’s runniness and the rice grains will be swollen and mushy.
- Good risottos start with a good ‘soffritto’, slowly fried aromatic vegetables, in this case onion, garlic and celery. The idea is to soften the vegetables thoroughly without imparting much colour. You want a very light brown colour.