CSA Week 6 - Beet Risotto

I've never cooked with beets before.  I've never prepped them before either, so I was really in need of google to save me here.  Turns out, the stories about how they stain everything they get near is totally true.  But use a dark cutting board, you'll be just fine.
As I get more used to each vegetable, I get more excited each time it shows up.  I'm now totally on the kale bandwagon (only about 5 years too late), and green beans are totally awesome roasted.  But I'll get to both of those recipes soon.  We're here to focus on beets today.

So what to do with them?  I turned to a recipe I know well, and chose to still go with my method of salt, pepper, and oil to bring out the wonderful natural flavor of the beets.  I didn't want to mask them too much, but adding them to risotto was kind of amazing.  The simple dish of rice, broth, and onion got an amazing kick from the roasted beets.  I also kind of fell in love with the color, which was such a girlie pink I couldn't handle it.  The taste convinced me that I'd be making this dish for a long time, or at least each time I got beets in my CSA box!
Beets are very earthy, and roasting them brings out a sweetness in them that is wonderful.  To prep a beet, first peel it (I just sliced off each end and used a paring knife to remove the rest of the skin), then slice as desired.  You could slice them super thin and bake them to get chips, or keep them in slices or rounds, but I diced them up and roasted them like that.  Since I had small beets, the dice was around 1/2" cubes.
Toss with salt, pepper, and oil and roast until the edges are crisping up and the centers are soft.  I tried one to see if it needed more time :-)  I'm just not used to cooking with beets yet!
And then I made a simple risotto, and added the beets to it at the very end.  They still made everything pink!  The earthy beets were delicious with the rice and broth.  And a quick side of your choice of veg rounds out the meal.  Or baked chicken.  Or more pink risotto.  Whatevs!  Just this risotto is divine.
Beet Risotto
serves 4

4 cups broth (I used chicken broth, but veggie will work too)
1 tablespoon butter or oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/4 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Parmesan cheese, as desired

Roasted Beets:
2-3 large beets, or 5-6 small ones, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Mix the diced beets with the oil, and spread evenly onto the baking sheet, separating them as much as possible.  Roast for 25-30 minutes until the edges are crisping up and the centers are soft.

Meanwhile, heat a medium pot with the broth over medium heat and keep it warm on a back burner.  Add the oil to another medium pot over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the onion once the oil has heated, and saute until turning translucent, 2-3 minutes.  Add the rice, salt and pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon of each to start) and mix around until the rice is evenly coated in the oil, and also translucent, another minute or so.

Add the white wine and stir until evaporated.  Adding a ladle-full at a time (or about 1/2 cup), add the broth and stir until incorporated.  If the broth is evaporating quickly (less than a minute between ladles), turn the heat down.  The broth should slowly make the rice more creamy.  When about 3 cups of broth have been used, take a small taste to see if more cooking is needed.  The risotto is done when the rice is creamy on the outside, but still has a little chew in the center, but definitely not crunchy!  Think of it like nice al dente pasta.

When the rice is ready, add the roasted beets and stir.  If desired, add 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese at this point, but I like to sprinkle it directly over my portion (you could totally do both if you want, or neither to keep this vegan!).  Serve immediately, risotto does not stay at that perfect level of chewy for long!

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