Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Beet and beet greens risotto

I've always had a troubled relationship with beets. My mother used to make me eat pickled beets as punishment, so for most of my life, I loathed beets. (For good reason--pickled beets are gross.) I veeeeeerrry sloooooooowwwwly came around to non-pickled beets. For fellow beet-haters, I recommend starting with golden beets. They're less, you know, beet-y, and they're a lovely golden color that doesn't stain nearly as much as regular beets.

Yes, beets stain. Therefore I also recommend peeling them before you roast them--unroasted beets won't stain your hands, your knife, and the rest of your kitchen bright red. (But fun fact--if you eat too many beets, you'll pee purple. There's a dye in beets that your body can't process.) There are many fun things you can do with roasted beets--add them to a salad with a little goat cheese, or mash some up with your potatoes to produce pink mashed potatoes, or turn them into a risotto, as here. I added the beet greens along with the beets, because the bitter greens help cut the beet-y sweetness of this dish. That, and the three handfuls of parmesan cheese.

Saute one chopped onion in a little olive oil, then add a cup to a cup and a half of arborio rice when the onion is soft. Let the rice toast for a minute, then deglaze with a couple cups of white wine. Keep stirring. When the wine is absorbed, start adding chicken or vegetable broth, a cup or so at a time, and let each addition mostly absorb before adding the next. About ten minutes into this process, add the chopped roasted beets (I had four small ones) and the chopped beet greens. Another ten minutes should produce soft, tender rice. Add three handfuls or so of parmesan cheese and stir in. (That's FRESH grated parmesan, not the cheese-flavored dandruff that comes in the green Kraft can. Cheese is too good to eat fake cheese.) Add a healthy dollop of freshly grated pepper and sea salt.

Cost: a bunch of beets will run maybe $1.50. Arborio rice is around $6.00 for a large box, and the good parmesan in bulk is about $12.00 a pound. The amount of rice used would be about $1.00, and maybe another $2.00 worth of cheese. The broth was homemade, and the onion (bought in a twenty-pound bag, in bulk) would be another, what, 10 cents? Around $4.50 total, and this will easily feed four adults as a main course, at $1.13 per serving.

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