April 25, 2012

Beet Risotto

Beets; red, pink, golden... oh you pretty little tubers! As a kid  (and a vegetarian), beets were the one veggie that I couldn't stand. I'm not sure if I was intimidated by the brilliant color or the earthy flavors were too sophisticated for my little palette, but these days I really dig 'em. Little Smith likes them too so I guess he's already one step ahead of his mama.

A few summers ago we had a CSA share and were getting boatloads of beets in our boxes each week. One of the weekly newsletters included a beet risotto and since risotto is one of our staples I knew this would quickly become a favorite. Since the beets are grated you don't have to wait to roast them and as a big bonus the whole dish turns an amazing bright pink which either delights or frightens dinner guests!

Beet Risotto: {very loosely} adapted from Stillman's CSA newsletter which was adapted from Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone"
  • 2 medium beets peeled and grated
  • three handfuls of chopped or baby greens (beet, kale, chard, spinach, collard)
  • 4c vegetable stock
  • 3tbs butter
  • 2tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2c risotto rice (I like carnaroli)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2c white wine
  • zest and juice of a lemon
  • 1 1/2c shredded parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
*note: in the summer when beets are fresh and still have their greens this is an excellent dish to make use of those. we're off season now so our beets were stored without the greens which is why I used some spinach.

Prep the onion, garlic, and greens. Peel and grate the beets. If you don't like red hands as much as I do then it might be good to wear rubber gloves or use golden beets, this is a bit messy!

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a small heavy bottomed pan. Reduce to a low simmer and keep simmering throughout the cooking process.

Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute a few minutes stirring until softened but not browned. 

Add the rice and saute about two minutes. Add the white wine and stir until it has been absorbed into the rice. Add the grated beets.

Add a ladle full of the vegetable stock and stir until absorbed. Reduce the heat to medium low. Continue adding stock one ladle at a time and stirring until absorbed until the rice is becoming tender, about 15-18 minutes.

Add the greens and lemon and continue to add stock for another few minutes (reserving at least one ladle full of stock) until the rice is tender. Remove from heat and add the final ladle of stock and the cheese, salt and pepper stirring until the liquid is absorbed.

Cover and let rest for a few minutes before serving topped with grated parmesan. I always like serve risotto with popovers or some crusty bread (because one carb just is never enough!).

I did serve this dish to Little Smith and I can't believe I forgot to take pictures because it was a serious crimson mess. I will confess that he may have been distracted by the joy of pushing the red rice around his white tray and ate less than usual, but at least he was quiet enough that I was able to enjoy my meal in peace.

My palms were a lovely rose for about a day and a half after grating those beets. A nice reminder of a tasty meal.


  1. This looks delicious! I adore beets and risotto, so this seems like a really great combination of the two.

  2. Looks delicious!! I can't wait to make it. If you want another really awesome beet recipe google Ana Sortun beet tzatziki. It is AMAZING! Especially with her spinach falafel, which you should probably also google. :) Thanks for sharing this recipe!!

    1. Those both sound so good and I love new recipes- thanks!

  3. Gorgeous! Beets are one of my all-time favorite vegetables. I throw them into soups and chilis, but I've never tried them in risotto!

  4. Yum! I've always struggled with preparing beets, but this sounds super simple and delicious! Thanks!

  5. I love beets! What an innovative way to use them! Thanks for sharing!

  6. This looks pretty AND flavorful! I've never cooked with beets. I'll put it on the list :) Thanks for sharing.

  7. This looks delicious...beautiful colour!

  8. Looks good. I wish I liked beets. I think they are too earthy for me. =( So pretty to look at though!

  9. I'm still iffy about beets! I've tried many ways to enjoy them. I like pickled ones on salad and even fresh slices. But, cooking makes it complicated as fast as flavor! I once tossed a small slice in the juicer with my usual concoction and it's strong, hot flavor ruined the load! Hehe But, this looks good! I'd try it. :)

  10. I think this dish would be perfect for Valentine's Day.

  11. At the moment I only have canned beets but I'm going to try this anyway - looks so good!