Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Risotto Lessons from a Beet

I am a complete risotto novice. I've only ever attempted it once, to rather poor results. I've never even eaten it out- risotto is just not common on menus here in NE Wisconsin. My one attempt at risotto was a rather awful butternut squash risotto that just didn't do it for me. I figured Andy being gone was an excellent time to attempt risotto again because if it sucked he'd never even know about it.

My inspiration came, of course, from my humble garden plot in the backyard. I've been eyeing the calendar and my packet of butternut squash seeds, wishing I had a place to get some in before it's too late. Then when weeding, I realized that my beets were all of a substantial size and could really come out of the ground. So the first step to risotto was pulling the beets, preparing some for long-term storage and boiling some to slip their skins. While the beets were simmering away, I amended the soil where they had stood just moments earlier and happily planted my butternut seeds. I let the beets cool, peeled them, and then diced them and headed off to find my beet risotto recipe.

I've been planning on trying this recipe. I was a little leery, because I love beets as much as I love butternut squash, and I hated the butternut squash risotto. I forged ahead regardless, determined that risotto made with beets was going to be delicious and colorful.

I was not disappointed.

The recipe called for the addition of walnuts and gorgonzola and very little else- it's a simple recipe. Sadly though, when I pulled out the gorgonzola I found fuzz, so at the last minute I had to swap in some Parmesan and some Irish cheddar. After my risotto rested, I took the tiniest bite to check for seasoning, added some pepper, and then dug in wholeheartedly. This was my kind of risotto. In fact, this was my kind of beets. Comfort food in a bowl, I could not get enough. I do wonder how it would be with the gorgonzola, but I may be tempted to just use the Irish Cheddar next time anyway. Beet Risotto with Walnuts and Gorgonzola is another favorite way to use beets- and would be an impressive company dish, even if only for the color.
Just check out that color! My camera may not be the best- but it truly was this color on my plate. A bright, vibrant magenta- just screaming about all the antioxidants contained within. Since this risotto calls for cheese, I wouldn't consider it suitable for a vegan, only because I think it would suffer without the cheese. Vegetable stock could easily be substituted for the chicken stock though for a vegetarian version- I plan to do just that the next time. *Sigh* Beet risotto is a really good thing.

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