Beets. Dirt. Their flavours are synonymous, no?
I’m beginning to learn that no, beets don’t have to taste like dirt.
I didn’t grow up eating beets so I haven’t had much exposure to them, but I’ve always thought they tasted like dirt. I’m not a big fan of the taste of dirt, so I haven’t spent much time eating beets.
Since they can be such a reliable cool weather and storage crop, though, I’m interested in learning how to prepare them well. (Just like Brussels sprouts, but that’s a story for another day.) And for reliably tasty preparation of quasi-obscure vegetables I turn to Deborah Madison.
Beet Risotto with Greens
Recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, p. 553
- 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 c stock
- 3 T butter or a mixture of butter and olive oil
- 1/2 c finely diced onion
- 1 1/2 c rice
- 1/2 c dry white wine
- 2 T chopped parsley
- 2 T chopped basil or 1 T dried
- 2-3 medium beets, peeled and grated
- 2-3 c greens (beet, chard, kale or spinach), stems removed, chopped finely
- Salt and freshly milled pepper
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan
- Have the stock simmering on the stove.
- Heat the butter in a wide pot, add the onion and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the rice, stir to coat it well, and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the wine and simmer until it’s absorbed, then stir in half the parsley, the basil, grated beets, and the chard or kale.
- Add 2 cups stock, cover and cook at a lively simmer until the stock is absorbed. Begin adding the remaining stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed before adding the next.
- When you have 1 cup left, add the beet greens or spinach. Taste for salt, season with pepper, then stir in the lemon zest and juice to taste. Serve dusted with the cheese and the remaining parsley.
Charlie doesn’t like soupy soup-type dishes, so I only used 4 cups of our homemade chicken stock. I also used our Missouri rice (precooked, since it was leftover from another dish) and homegrown dried basil.
I planted beets for the first time this year, but got them planted late, so I purchased two bunches of small-medium beets for this recipe. The greens were looking kind of sad so I used kale for the greens portion of the recipe.
This is a fabulous way to prepare beets, as well as any greens you prefer, including kale which is extremely cold hardy and can be harvested even in the depths of winter.
The beets become almost sweet in this risotto. The dish was good as I tasted it for salt and pepper, but adding the lemon juice and zest as well as a sprinkle of Parmesan just before serving added a whole other dimension. Awesome dish, and no hint of dirt.
P.S. A reminder if you’re not used to eating beets: See that beautiful dark red pigment? You’ll see it again in the toilet. No need to panic.