Beet Risotto
Risotto alla Barbabietola

serves: 6 servings

The vibrant color of this dish will add pizazz to any table. But the real surprise is the flavor, a mellow and rich blend of rice and beets.

2 red beets
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup onion, minced
2 tablespoons shallot, minced
2½ cups arborio rice
½ cup white wine, dry
6½ cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon salt, or as needed
3 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
freshly ground black pepper


Cut the tops from the beets where they join the roots. Scrub the beets well under cold running water. In a medium-size saucepan simmer the beets in enough water to cover until they are tender when pierced with a small knife. This can take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the beets. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid and cool the beets. Peel the beets and cut them into 1/4-inch dice. Strain the reserved cooking liquid through a coffee filter or sieve lined with cheesecloth. Set the beets and their liquid aside.

In a heavy, wide 3 to 4-quart casserole or pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and shallots and cook them until golden, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil. Toast the rice until the edges become translucent, 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour in the wine and stir well until evaporated. Add 1/2 cup of the hot stock and the salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until all the stock has been absorbed. Continue to add hot stock in small batches, just enough to completely moisten the rice, and cook until each successive batch has been absorbed. After about 10 minutes, stir in the beets and beet liquid. Stir until the beet liquid is absorbed, then continue adding the stock as above. Stir constantly and adjust the level of heat so the rice is simmering very gently while adding the liquid until the rice mixture is creamy and al dente. This will take 16 to 20 minutes from the time the wine is added.

Remove the casserole from the heat. Beat in the butter first until completely melted, then the cheese. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary, and pepper. Serve immediately, ladled into warm serving bowls.