Roasted Golden Beet Risotto with Beet Greens

A bowl of golden comfort food.

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.

Spring Risotto

Comfort food for a cool spring afternoon. Yum!

We spent our Saturday bowling with a group of animated guys celebrating a friend’s birthday. Beers, burgers and oily balls – what better way to spend an afternoon? The birthday boy regaled us with tales of his celebration dinner at Incanto earlier in the week leaving us hungry for something fresh and seasonal. He described a delightful sounding pea and mint risotto that inspired us to hit our Sunday farmer’s market in search of the best spring produce du jour. Peas and asparagus are iconic spring veggies abundantly available in our May markets. Pairing them with chopped mint and parsley, butter, freshly grated lemon zest and Parmesan creates an exquisite mélange perfect for creamy risotto.

The May/June 2010 issue of Cook’s Illustrated provides an almost no-stir risotto recipe, and since risotto was on our minds we thought why not try out their cooking method, with a pleasant adulteration of spring vegetables? Fast forward to Monday and this was our lunch. Add a glass of wine or two and our week was off to a delicious start!

Almost Hands Free Risotto with Spring Vegetables

6 ½ cups homemade chicken stock (or low sodium store bought)

4 Tablespoons butter

1 large leek finely chopped


1 medium garlic clove, minced

2 cups Arborio rice

1 cup Vermouth

½ cup thinly sliced asparagus

½ cup fresh (or frozen) shelled peas

2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped

2 Tablespoons mint, chiffonade

Fresh ground pepper

Add the chicken stock to a medium sauce pan and heat to a simmer. In the meantime, add two tablespoons butter to a stock pot and melt over medium heat. Once the butter has melted add the leeks and a pinch of salt, sauté for about 4 minutes or until the leeks are softened. Add the minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the Arborio rice and cook stirring constantly for another 3 minutes or until the rice is translucent around the edges. Add the Vermouth and stir until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 3-4 minutes. Add five cups of the chicken stock, give the pot a good stir and put the lid on the pot. Cook over low-medium heat, covered for 15-20 minutes, stirring every five minutes, making sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Once the liquid is absorbed take the lid off the pot and add another ¾-1 cup of broth. Stir gently for a minute then add the asparagus and peas. Stir for a couple more minutes and add the Parmesan cheese. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Uncover and add the remaining two tablespoons of butter, lemon zest, parsley, and mint; season with salt and pepper to taste. If the risotto is too thick for your liking, add ¼ cup more broth. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Leftover risotto can be reheated in a sauce pan on the stove, just add a little water or broth to loosen up the grains.

Steve & Jason