Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Week B - Gimme a Beet! Risotto

Beets are a magical food. Lucky for us Northern Californians, beets are available year round. For the rest of the country, June through October are peak months. Beets are a part of the Chard and Spinach family. Unlike many other root vegetables, you can eat both the greens and root. Beets add gorgeous color to any dish. You will find red, golden, white and the Italian heirloom Chioga beet that is red and white striped on the inside.
Beets have been used since the ancient times. They have been known for their cleansing qualities in the liver, for kidney stones, gallbladder, stomach and intestines. Beets are high in antioxidants. The powerful red color, betacyanin, is a powerful cancer fighting agent. Beets are known to aid the lymphatic system as well as aid digestion. Beets tone the blood and build red blood cells. If you struggle with anemia red beets are at your service.
They can be used for both sweet and savory cooking styles. You can even eat beets raw due to their high sugar content. Try them spiralized in a salad or as raw noodles. In the recipe below we will discover how to naturally color our food with whole ingredients. Beets are just one of the many natural coloring agents.

In the recipe below is cut into sections. Recipe total time approximately 1.5 hours.

Beet Risotto with Hazelnuts and Herb Goat Cheese

Serves 6-8
Roasted Beet Mixture
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 medium red beets, leave skin on, cut stems down to one inch (so the beets do not bleed while roasting)
1 large shallot, chopped fine
1 tsp orange zest, chopped fine or use micro plane
1 tsp basil, dried spice
to taste sea salt
to brighten lemon or orange juice, fresh squeezed

1) Preheat oven to 375F. Individually wrap each beet in foil and place on sheet pan.
2) Bake for approximately 40-50 minutes, or until your knife can slice into the center of the largest beet.
3) Once beets are cooked through, remove from foil and let cool for 10 minutes.
4) Heat medium sauce pan with olive oil. Add shallots and cook for approximately 1 minute or until translucent. Meanwhile rough chop the beets and add to shallots. Stir occasionally. After 1-2 minutes, add orange zest, basil and sea salt. Optional: to brighten the flavor, add a squeeze of lemon or orange juice. Mix together for 30 seconds and remove from heat.
5) Use food processor with S blade to puree the beet mixture until smooth. Set aside until risotto is ready.
Basic Risotto

2 Tbsp olive oil or unsalted organic butter
1 large shallot, chopped fine
2 cups Aborio rice, do not rinse rice
6 cups vegetable stock, recipe below
3/4 cup dry white wine or dry sherry
1 tsp lemon zest, mince or use micro plane
to taste sea salt, fine
to taste black pepper, ground fine

1) Heat vegetable stock on medium low heat in separate sauce pan.
2) In a heavy large sauce pan, heat olive oil or butter over low-medium heat and add shallots. Stir occasionally until shallots become translucent in about 2-3 minutes. Increase the heat of the pan and add aborio rice to shallots. Stir regularly to keep rice from browning. Stir until the rice has a nice white center and appears chalky for about 4-5 minutes.
3) Add a third of the dry white wine and continue stirring until wine has absorbed into the rice. With a ladle, add in 1/2 cup of vegetable stock and stir continuously until it absorbs into rice. Repeat this step until there is one ladle of stock left, set aside. The rice should be firm in the center, and the risotto has a nice creamy buttery flavor and texture. It should not be runny like soup. Let set for 2 minutes while combining the beet mix with hazelnut flour.
Adding a beet to your risotto step:

2 Tbsp hazelnut flour
complete beet mixture
complete basic risotto
1/2 C vegetable stock
garnish per plate:
1 Tbsp crumbled herb goat cheese
1 Tbsp roasted hazelnuts, rough chop
1 Tbsp basil, chiffonade (place leaves in pile, roll up and slice thin. You should have ribbon like pieces.)

1) In a mixing bowl, add the pureed beet mixture with the hazelnut flour, and mix gently.
2) Add the mixture to the risotto and stir until completely combined. Your risotto should have a beautiful deep purple-red hue. Gorgeous!!!

To serve:
In 4" diameter ramekin or shallow bowl lightly pack the risotto. Over dinner plate turn over and let the risotto mold onto the plate. Top with crumbled goat cheese, basil, then finish with the hazelnuts. There you have a brilliantly colorful plate!

How to make a rich flavored vegetable stock (not from the box):
**It is really important to use organic foods.

5 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns, whole
3 organic carrots, rough chop large, peel on
3 stalks celery, rough chop
2-3 onions, rough chop into quarters
6 stems parsley, leaves and stems
3 stems thyme, left on stem
distilled water

1) Use large heavy bottom stock pot. Leave enough room to add vegetables. Add all your
ingredients and fill the water almost to the top. I like to use leek leaves as a natural cover
while cooking down the stock.
A good rule of thumb is approximately 3/4 of water to half vegetables.
2) Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about and hour to hour and a half.
3) Using a sieve or mesh strainer, strain the vegetables delicately into a separate large bowl.
Toss the vegetables into compost.

*When I know I will need a vegetable stock for cooking I keep a plastic bag or container next to me for veggie scraps that might work for a stock, and put it in the freezer until ready to use. Here are a few I might recommend:
green onion or leek leaves, onion scraps, shallots, lemon or orange peels, carrot ends, some use turnips, potatoes, garlic, chives, spinach, mushrooms (make a great dark stock), if you like small amounts of tomatoes, bell peppers...
What not to use: Highly recommend not using the cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Asparagus can also be too strong for a delicate vegetable stock.


  1. Sarah I love the pictures and the color of the rice is awesome!! B is for best!

  2. Photos are beet-iful. Thanks & keep sharing, I love your recipes. Joseph is so lucky.... an in house vegetarian organic chef.... woo hoo!