Monday, March 22, 2010
The first day of spring has come and gone and I am brimming with anticipation for the artichokes, fava beans and pea shoots that will soon appear at farmers’ markets all over Los Angeles. In an effort to cook seasonally, I have stockpiled recipes for fava bean purees and shaved artichoke salads, and held off on making a rhubarb tart until I see the harbinger of spring show up at my favorite Saturday market.
Beets are a year-round food here in Southern California, but the vibrant pink color imparted by roasted red beets announces spring almost as much as the honey baked ham I order every year for Easter. So, in anticipation of all the wonderful spring food headed to market, a number of beet dishes have been prepared in my kitchen.
This weekend I added a puree of roasted beets to risotto, turning the otherwise neutral colored dish into something bursting with color. The bright pink dish may look almost artificial to some, but served next to a green salad and a rack of lamb, it looks just like spring to me.
Roasted Beet Risotto
Serves 6 – 8 as a side dish
3 – 4 medium red beets
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T unsalted butter
1 small onion, minced
2 cups carnaroli or arborio rice
4 – 6 cups chicken stock or a combination of stock and water
Salt and pepper
Sour cream or crème fraiche to serve
Preheat Oven to 400*
Trim the beets of greens and scrub to remove any dirt. Wrap the beets in foil and bake until tender, 45 minutes to an hour. When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove the skin by peeling or gently rubbing with a paper towel. Puree the beets in a food processor and set aside while you prepare the risotto.
Bring the chicken stock or chicken stock and water to a boil and then keep warm over low heat. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about five minutes. Add the rice and stir until lightly toasted and turning opaque. Add about a cup of the heated liquid to the rice and stir until fully incorporated. Continue adding liquid, one cup at a time, until the rice is still lightly al dente – you may not need all the liquid. Stir in the beet puree and season with salt and pepper. If desired, add a spoonful of sour cream or crème fraiche to each serving.