A ruby in the snow

I hated beetroot. Forever. The strange sweetness, mingled usually with a sharp vinegar tang, was not a joy to eat. What could it possibly be used for?

Then I met Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (well, someone bought Mr Tall his River Cottage Veg Every Day! book) and got a bag of veg from the local farm with beetroot in it and I knew I had to embrace it just this once. I made the beetroot pizza recipe. The earthiness and jewel colour of the beetroot combined with the melting mozarella, the sweet smokey onions and the salty strong cheddar were a match made in heaven.

Several years later, and the beetroot pizza recipe (along with the magic dough) is a favourite treat in our house when there’s beetroot in the veg bag and I’ve found numerous other recipes that I actively want to make rather than making them because I have beetroot and don’t like wasting food.

We won’t be at home at the weekend, which is when I would usually make pizza, but we did have beetroot from last week’s veg bag, so tonight we had beetroot and feta risotto.

I love risotto, Mr Tall only likes it if it’s not too ‘soupy’, so whilst I wouldn’t call it stodgy, it is less liquid than some recipes. On a cold, snowy day like today though, there’s nothing better than some good carbs, packed with earthy veg and creamy cheese.

Beetroot risotto
(makes 3-4 portions, depending on how hungry you are/whether you like leftover risotto, which I do!)

2 large fresh beetroot, unpeeled
300 g risotto rice
1 medium onion
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
500 ml vegetable stock (plus extra boiling water)
A handful of grated parmesan
1/2 block (~100g) feta cheese
Flat leaf parsley

  1. Start by roasting the beetroot, drizzled in olive oil and wrapped in foil, on a baking tray for around 1 hour at 180C (fan oven).
  2. Once the beetroot is tender, slice or peel the skin off with a sharp knife and dice the beetroot into 1 cm cubes (this bit is messy, your hands and chopping board will be pink!) Set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a high sided frying pan or saute pan.
  4. Finely chop the onions and add to the hot oil, stirring frequently. When the onions are soft, add the garlic and cook for a further minute or two.
  5. Turn the heat low and add the risotto rice to the onion and garlic and stir until the grains are coated with oil and are turning translucent (one or two minutes). Stir frquently and don’t let the rice colour.
  6. Add around 100 ml of the stock to the rice mixture and stir freuqently, until the stock is almost absorbed. Repeat this until all the stock has been absorbed. This will take around 15-20 minutes. Make sure not to have the heat too high, it should be gently simmering.
  7. Test the rice, if it is too hard or crunchy, continue to add small amounts of hot water, stirring until absorbed, until the desired consistency is required and the rice retains just a small amount of bite.
  8. Stir in the chunks of beetroot and the parmesan while the heat is on low.
  9. Turn off the heat and serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and crumbled feta.

We had ours with a glass of Valpolicella but it’s not a requirement!






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