Toasted beet risotto with lime

Beet Risotto

Holy smoke, I’m excited about this one. Here’s how it all went down…we recently saw the fascinating film Beats, Rhymes and Life about A Tribe Called Quest. I was going on and on about it, and my friend Luke told me that Japanther, a band I like a lot, had just released an album called Beets, Limes and Rice! First of all – what a good name for an album! Second of all, what a good combination of tastes! Sweet, earthy beets and bright tart limes? Genius! So I decided to make a risotto (that’s the rice part) with beets and limes. I like risotto, but after years of encountering risotto as The Vegetarian Option at restaurants, I’ve become slightly disenchanted with it. Making this beet risotto brought all the magic back! For one thing, it’s really pretty. It’s lovely and ruby colored. For another thing, risotto is fun to make. It’s almost therapeutic. It requires attention, but it’s not really demanding, it can’t all go wrong for you. Well, it could, but it’s not likely to. And for yet another thing, risotto can be sort of mushy (I’m sorry, risotto, but it’s true). Which is why I decided to top it with pistachios and serve it with baby arugula, to be mixed in at the last minute, so it wilts slightly but retains its texture and bite. And the goat cheese, beside being a pretty white addition to go with all the scarlet and green, adds a nice touch of tartness to mingle with the lime and offset the beety sweetness.

beets, limes, and rice

And as it happens I’m completely enamored of the Japanther album. Here’s a track called Porcupine.

TO MAKE A RICH AND TASTY VEGETARIAN VEGETABLE BROTH…

Vegetable broth. The broth is very important in a risotto. And you need to add it warm, so you might as well make your own. It’s easy peasy lemon squeezy. Warm some olive oil in a saucepan. Add one shallot, not even peeled, very coarsely chopped. Then add a couple of cloves of garlic (you can use up those annoying tiny ones) not even peeled, very coarsely chopped. Add a carrot washed and roughly chopped, some lettuce leaves, a handful of french lentils, a few bay leaves, a sprig of rosemary, a teaspoon of basil, a teaspoon of tomato paste, a 1/4 teaspoon of marmite, a teaspoon of tamari, a few mushrooms roughly chopped. You can add other things if you have them…a bit of parsley, a cut up potato. Whatever. Then you cook that all for a few minutes, till it starts to brown and wilt and sizzle. Then you add 8 or 9 cups of water. You bring it to a boil, and then you reduce the heat and simmer for at least half an hour. Leave it simmering on the stove once you start the risotto.

2 medium-sized beets (about 2 cups, grated) grated
2 T olive oil
1 t. balsamic.

Combine the beets, olive oil and balsamic. Spread evenly on a toaster tray or baking sheet and either toast in your toaster oven or roast in the real oven at 425 for 10 or 15 minutes, till parts turn dark and it smells like cooking sugar.

2 T butter
1 shallot, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, finely diced
1 t. dried basil (In the summer I would use lots of fresh basil, and stir it in at the end)
1 t. rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups arborio rice.
1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt
6-8 cups broth

2 cups baby arugula, or roughly chopped non-baby arugula
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled

In a big wide frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for a few minutes till they just start to brown. Add the rosemary and basil and the rice. Stir to mix well, till every grain of rice is coated, and cook for about a minute.

Add the wine and cook till it’s thick and syrupy.

Stir in the beets and the salt. Cook for a minute or two and then add a cup of vegetable broth. Mix well, and simmer until the broth is absorbed. It should take a couple of minutes. Then add another 1/2 cup to 1 cup of broth. Stir till it’s absorbed, a few minutes. From this point on, you’re going to add 1/2 cup at a time, stirring to make sure everything is mixed and the bottom doesn’t get all burnt and crusty. As the broth gets absorbed, which should take a couple of minutes, you add another half a cup.

After you’ve added about 6 cups of broth altogether, taste the rice. If it’s soft but still has a bit of texture, you’re done. At this point I added another 1/2 cup of broth, because I wanted it to be a little soupy. If you like it thicker, leave this out.

Add the very finely grated zest of one lime, as well as its juice. Stir it all together. Serve in shallow bowls filled with a few handfuls of arugula, and top with goat cheese and pistachios and plenty of freshly ground pepper.

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2 thoughts on “Toasted beet risotto with lime

  1. Pingback: Beet risotto croquettes | Out of the Ordinary

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