The bright color of this dish when it arrives at the table immediately attracts attention. But the real surprise is the flavor, a rich but mellow blend of rice and beets. Beet-and-goat-cheese salads have been around for a while, and turning the concept into a risotto is perfect. If you’re using store-bought vegetable stock, make sure to choose one that is light in color and flavor, so as not to muddy the look and taste of the risotto, and that it is not overly salty.
- 2 medium beets, trimmed to within 1 inch of the top
- 8 cups light vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
- ½ cup freshly grated Grana Padano
- 3 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- Balsamic reduction, for drizzling (see below)
Put the beets in a small saucepan, and add water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on size, Drain, reserving 1 cup of thecooking liquid. Let the beets cool, then peel them and grate them on the coarse holes of a box grater. Strain the reserved cooking liquid through a coffee filter or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Set the beets and their liquid aside.
Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and shallots. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook and stir until the onion and shallots are wilted but not browned, about 7 to 8 minutes.
Add the rice, and stir to coat in the oil. Pour in the wine, and cook, stirring, until it’s absorbed, about 1 to 2 minutes. Ladle in enough stock just to cover the rice. Adjust the heat so the risotto is simmering, and cook, stirring constantly, until all liquid has been absorbed. Continue to add hot stock in small batches (just enough to moisten the rice completely) and cook until each successive batch has been absorbed, stirring constantly, until the rice mixture is creamy but still al dente, about 18 minutes total; add the grated beets about halfway through the cooking time.
Remove the skillet from the heat. Beat in the butter in teaspoon-size pieces until completely melted, then the Grana Padano cheese. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately, ladled onto flat plates. Crumble the goat cheese on top, and finish with balsamic reduction.
For the balsamic reduction: Pour 1 cup balsamic vinegar into a skillet, and boil until reduced to ⅓ cup. Cool completely before using. It will keep for several weeks refrigerated.