Monday, August 29, 2011

Think Pink

Sometimes you happen upon something quite delicious by surprise...  We joined a CSA this year since I've been so disappointed by the produce at all the grocery stores lately and have been too busy to make it to the farmer's market.  So far, we've been really happy with it. Lots of fresh veggies, and as I have previously posted, we got to try fava beans, which was the first of the unusual items we've gotten.  This past week, we got a small bunch of beets.  Now, I have always loved canned beats, and I once roasted fresh farmer's market beets with delicious results, but these beets came with the greens attached, and they were gorgeous (I really should have taken a picture!).  So I knew I had to do something special with them.  So I started googling, and look what I found! A spectacular risotto that uses both the beets and the greens at once!

Very spectacular, as a matter of fact. So good that even though I knew exactly what was going into the pot, I was still taken by surprise when I tasted it. The pink color made me think it was going to be sweet, even though I hadn't added a single ingredient sweeter than the beets themselves, so when I put that first little bite of rice in my mouth, I was blown away by the savory, garlic laden deliciousness of it. Even my husband, who really doesn't like beets, described it as having an "earthy greenness." Sad to say, I think the status of canned beets has been lowered forever...

Beet Risotto
adapted from the New York Times
one bunch of beens, roasted & peeled
1 bunch of beet greens, stemmed, washed & sliced into one-inch strips
6ish cups stock, chicken or vegetable
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2-3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup dry wine
1-2 ounces Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp parsley

In one pot, warm the stock and hold at a low simmer.

Heat the olive oil in a wide saucepan (keep in mind that while the rice initially doesn't seem like it needs that large of a pot, it expands a lot).  Add the onion and cook until transparent.  Add the rice and garlic and stir until the grains of rice are glossy and start to crackle.

Add the wine and stir until liquid is nearly evaporated/completely absorbed.  When the rice is nearly dry, begin adding one or two ladlefuls of stock at a time, stirring regularly.  Continue adding more stock as it is absorbed for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the beets and strips of greens and stir.  Add more stock, and continue stirring.  Continue adding stock a little at a time for about 10 more minutes.  Taste the rice (this is where I was initially blown away).  It should be cooked through and creamy.  If it isn't yet, continue adding stock and stirring a bit longer until it is.

Add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and one more ladleful of stock.  Stir in the Parmesan and parsley and remove from heat.

This makes about four or five main course servings, and I enjoyed it thoroughly for lunch the next day.

The color is startling, but the taste is divine.  Even non-beet lovers will like this!

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