Beetroot risotto with walnuts

DSC_0011I’m in a bit of a beetroot phase at the moment.
It may not be as sentimental as it sounds because there is a practical element to it, too – I managed to get my hands on a bundle of very authentic-looking, dirt-smeared fresh beetroots, so with that I have plenty of beetroot to experiment on (or ‘dispose of’ – depends on my mood).

Last week, when they were at their freshest, I enjoyed them raw in beetroot-apple salsa. One week later, though, they’re starting to go a bit soggy, so it’s time to give them some proper cooking care – ovens and saucepans from now on. I’m a massive fan of risotto and I could just imagine what a fantastic burst of colour a bit of grated beetroot would add to the classic rice dish. And however aesthetically pleasing the appearance, the real show-stopper is the sweet, earthy taste that the root adds to the mix. Combined with fragrant walnut and acidic yoghurt, this beauty is more than just a pretty face.

Serves 2:
1 cup arborio rice
1 beetroot
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil
vegetable stock
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
20 g parmesan cheese
a knob of butter
2 tablespoons greek yoghurt or crème fraiche
20 g walnuts

1. Toast the walnuts in a dry pan, flipping them over every now and then to make sure they brown evenly.

2. Dice the onion and garlic finely. Peel the beetroot and grate coarsely. Grate the parmesan finely.

3. Now fry the onion, garlic and rice in a tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes on a high heat. Add the grated beetroot and stir, coating the rice in a lovely shocking pink shade. Add a teaspoon of dried thyme. Then add stock, just enough to cover the rice, and let it come to a boil.

4. Stir constantly and add more stock as the rice soaks up the liquid, repeating this step until the rice is al dente, this should take about 18-20 minutes.

5. When the risotto is cooked, take the pan off the heat and add parmesan, butter, salt and pepper – perhaps another teaspoon of thyme. Serve with a dollop of greek yoghurt and the toasted walnuts on top, and perhaps a leafy green salad on the side.

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