Risotto with Roasted Beets, Greens, and Goat Cheese
This is one of my favorite risotto dishes. I love the sweetness of the beets combined with the creaminess of the risotto. The goat cheese adds extra creaminess and a bit of tang. Best of all, this is a great way to use the entire beet. You can even cook the beets a day early and keep them in the refrigerator. Set them out at room temperature when you begin to prep the risotto, so the beets are at room temperature by the time you put them in the dish. If you are cooking the beets the day of the risotto, make sure you don’t start adding the liquid to the risotto until the beets have had a good 20-30 minutes to cook. You want to make sure the beets have time to cool a bit so you can peel them.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50-60 minutes (if beets are not already cooked)
Serves: 4 (easily doubled)
1 cup short grained rice such as Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 medium leek, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon dried thyme
¼ cup dry white wine
5-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (homemade if you have it!)
2 bunches of beets (about 6 medium), with greens attached
4 oz. goat cheese
Fresh thyme for garnish, optional
Salt to taste
Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, freshly grated, to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Separate the beet greens from the beets. Wash all the dirt away from the beets and wrap the beets in aluminum foil. You can put 2-3 beets in each pouch. Place the beets on a baking sheet or in a pan (in case the juices ooze out) and roast in the oven for about 40-50 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces through the largest beet. If you put the beets in a glass dish, add a bit of water so the glass doesn’t break.
While the beets are cooking wash the greens is a sink full of water, letting the dirt and grit fall to the bottom. Spin the greens dry in a salad spinner (or pat dry with linen or paper towels). Pull the leaves off the stems. Chop the stems into about ¼ inch pieces. Cut the leaves into strips.
Put the 6 cups of broth in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring up to a low simmer, then turn the heat to low just to keep the broth hot.
While the broth is heating, finely dice your leek and mince your 2 garlic cloves.
Melt the 1 tablespoon of butter in 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven or large deep-sided skillet over medium heat. I like a pan with a wide bottom to help heat the rice. Even though you are using 1 cup of rice, it will expand a lot. Add the diced leeks and minced garlic and salt to taste and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the chopped beet stems and the 1 teaspoon dried thyme and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
Once the leek and beet stems are soft, add in 1 cup of short-grained rice to the pot and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook for a couple minutes, still stirring to toast the rice. It should start to smell a bit nutty. Now add in the ¼ cup of wine if using and stir until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. If you are not using wine go to the next step.
Now you start adding the hot broth, 1 ladle full at a time, and stir continuously. I like using a wooden spoon to stir. Once the rice has absorbed most of the broth, add another ladle. Continue in this manner until the rice is fully cooked, but still a bit al dente (has a slightly chewy bite to it). The rice will absorb the liquid quickly at first and more slowly toward the end of cooking.
You should be cooking over about medium heat, but may need to adjust a bit, especially toward the end of cooking.
While the risotto is cooking, saute the beet greens in a bit of olive oil in a separate skillet until wilted. Set aside.
As the rice gets closer to done, start tasting and add more salt if needed. You may not use all of your broth by the time the rice is fully cooked. If you use all of your broth and you still need to cook your rice longer (not usually the case) you may add water.
When the beets are done remove them from the oven. When they are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off and dice the beets into ¼ – ½ inch dice.
At the very end add the beets and sauteed beet greens and crumble in the goat cheese. Add Parmigiano-Reggiano to taste. Garnish with fresh thyme if desired.
Serve and eat immediately, with additional Parmigiano at the table. I like to serve a salad or other vegetable on the side to complete the meal.