Friday 4 March 2011

Can't Be Beet

It’s a rough time of year to buy vegetables.  Even I, who love winter vegetables, am getting a little tired of them.  My husband, who doesn’t love them quite so much, is openly rebelling each time he sees a root vegetable on his dinner plate.  We find ourselves succumbing to the lure of imported asparagus, snap peas, and spinach but, lovely as these treats are, we usually try to buy food grown closer to home, both to support local farmers and to help keep our budget on track.

When I brought home beets again today, there was an audible moan from the direction of the living room. I knew I had to change them up a bit in order to make tonight’s supper a little more appealing.  I decided to make beet risotto.  You might want to try this too.  Risotto is more a method than a recipe, but here are the general instructions:

Bring about a litre of chicken stock to a simmer.  While the chicken stock is heating, peel and finely grate a medium-sized beet.  Set it aside.  Zest an orange and set the zest aside.  Cut the orange in half.  You’ll need it later.  Finely chop about a half cup of onion. 

Pour about 2 Tbsp. of olive oil into a heavy bottomed pot and heat it over medium heat until surface of the oil begins to dimple and shimmer.  Add the chopped onion to the pot, together with about a cup of Arborio rice and sauté them until the onions are tender and each grain of rice is coated in oil.  The grains of rice should be a little bit translucent around the edges.  Add the grated beets, the orange zest and a couple of ladlefuls of stock.  Squeeze the juice from the orange into the pan. 

Stir the rice until the stock is mostly absorbed and then add more.  Continue stirring and adding more stock to the rice as needed, until it has reached the texture you prefer.  The risotto should have made its own sauce and be loose enough that it will spread when spooned onto your plate.

Some folks don’t consider a risotto finished until cheese has been added but I think that the beet and orange give this enough flavour that you can forgo the cheese.  If you are missing that creamy dairy texture, stir in some butter or some goat cheese.

Risotto needs to be served as soon as it is cooked.  This one should liven up your plate a bit; just look at the colour!

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