Despite the fact that this Fall roared into Brooklyn with a snowstorm in October, it’s settled into a long, mild season. It’s December already but we’ve yet to have a serious freeze and we’re still getting tons of cauliflower, broccoli and loads of delicious greens from our farmers. But what has caught my eye recently is fresh young ginger. I’ve spotted it at both the Greenmarket and our local Food Coop, and when I also happened upon some beets with a leafy bunch of greens attached to them, I thought to call in an old favorite.
I’ve got a risotto for every season and Ginger Beet Risotto is my go-to for Fall. I’ve served it as a main or as a primi in a multi-coarse meal, heading up some chili braised short ribs and sautéed greens (tossing the beet greens in with some Swiss chard). This time around I though about serving the greens on the side of the risotto with a bit of garlic and a splash of vinegar, but in the end I just chopped the them up and stirred them in, allowing them just to wilt among the gloriously red risotto. This is the vegetable version of nose to tail eating, let’s call it root to leaf – you’ve just got to include those lovely greens!
You’ll need to roast the beets in advance since they can take about an hour and a half by the time you cool and peel them. Let them sit and steam under the foil for a bit when you take them out of the oven. It’ll make them easier to peel when you’re ready. Your hands will be stained when you sit down to eat, but that’s half the fun.
I had a small bunch this time so I used the whole thing, but if you’ve got a large bunch of beets, roast them all anyway. You can use half in the risotto and save the rest to slice and add to a salad with greens and some goat cheese the next day.
Ginger Beet Risotto
- 1 small bunch of beets or 2-3 large (about 1/2 lb) roasted, peeled and cut into 1/4″ pieces
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced *with super fresh, young ginger I use more
- 3/4 cup finely chopped onion (1 small onion or 1/2 a larger one)
- 3 tablespoons butter (divided)
- 5 cups stock (I use chicken or turkey most often)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- I bunch beet greens, rinsed and chopped *optional, if you’ve got ’em
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Bring the stock to a simmer in a small stockpot on a rear burner. In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the ginger and onion and cook, stirring often, until tender – be careful not to let them brown – about 8-10 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat in the butter, then add the wine and simmer, stirring, until the wine is completely absorbed.
Begin adding the stock by the 1/2 cup, stirring slowly and frequently until almost completely absorbed, then add the next 1/2 cup. Continue cooking like this until you have about 1/2 cup of stock left (about 25 minutes). Taste the risotto – it should be tender with just a bit of firmness to the bite. Stir in the roasted, cut-up beets (and chopped greens if you’re using them) and final 1/2 half cup of stock. When nearly all the liquid is absorbed, stir in the final tablespoon of butter and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving bowls and serve immediately. *Go ahead, grate some fresh Parmiggiano Reggiano over it and open a nice bottle of wine too.