Almost all recipes evolve from a previous one. Very few occur out of thin air to the point of being new and original. This recipe is an adaptation of a Melissa Roberts recipe for Gourmet (Pasta with Beet Greens/Diary of a Foodie: Season Three: Farm to Fork). We have prepared Melissa’s recipe more times than we can count, but we thought it was time to replace the pasta with Arborio rice and to include both the beet greens and the beets they were once attached to. The concept of roasting beets in the oven until they are tender and sweet is something we enjoy any time of the year and we thought it might be interesting to replace the traditional winter squash with roasted golden beets in a creamy risotto to take the edge off our cool Winter/Spring weather.
Our evolved roasted beet risotto has a beautiful golden hue that looks almost too good to eat – almost. One bite and we knew that this dish was a winner that could easily be served in as a gorgeous first course or main course for vegetarians (or vegans, if you omit the Parmesan cheese). No one will miss the meat with the earthy and sweet flavors, plus all the olive oil and pine nuts give it just enough fat to satisfy and comfort your inner carnivore.
Thank you Melissa and Gourmet for the inspiration. If Melissa or the folks from the now defunct Gourmet are reading our blog (we miss you Gourmet) give our recipe a try. We think you’ll agree that your beet green pasta recipe has evolved into something truly golden.
Roasted Golden Beet Risotto
1 bunch golden beets with stems and leaves (about 3-4 medium sized beets)
4 cups water
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 cup dry vermouth
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 medium onion, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the stems and leaves from the base of the beets and place in a bowl of water to wash thoroughly. Cut the stems from the leaves and separate. Chop the stems into ¼” pieces and the leaves into ½” strips. Scrub the beets and place on a layer of aluminum foil, fold the foil over the beets to form a “package.” Place the beet package on a cookie sheet. Roast the beets for 40-60 minutes or until a knife can be easily inserted. Allow to cool before handling.
In the meantime, heat the vermouth in a pan until just simmering then add the raisins and cover. Allow to seep until you are ready to add the vermouth to the Arborio rice.
Heat four cups of water with 2 teaspoons salt in a separate pan until barely a simmer. In a large Dutch oven, add the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and toast, watching very closely so they don’t burn, for just a few minutes. Remove the pine nuts from the pan. Add the minced onions and beet stems to the pan and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the Arborio rice to the pan and saute for 3-4 minutes until the rice is slightly toasty. Strain the vermouth into the pan and stir until all the liquid is absorbed. Set the raisins aside for later. Gradually add ½ cup to 1 cup of water to the rice and continue to stir. Allow the rice to absorb the water before adding more water. Total cooking time should be about 20-30 minutes. Before the last addition of water, add the beet greens and stir thoroughly.
Once the beets are cool enough to handle, using paper towels, gently rub the beets to remove the skins. Dice the beets into ¼” pieces.
When the risotto is completely cooked, remove from heat and add the Parmesan cheese, beets, and toasted pine nuts. Stir one last time before serving and top with additional Parmesan cheese or a drizzle of olive oil or both.