This dish was both pretty (the picture doesn’t really do it justice) and delicious. The slightly salty feta worked really well with the sweetness of the roasted beets. Neither Zak nor I had ever eaten non-pickled beets outside of in borscht that we could recall, so I was a little apprehensive about how the flavors of this dish would work together. In the end, it was a really nice meal. The rice had a pale pink color from the mixture of pureed beets and chicken stock and the ruby gems of the beets and green flecks of the cilantro poked through to give a nice contrast. If you love risotto and like beets (or are at least willing to give them a try!), I suggest making this yummy, savory dish as soon as possible.
Beet Risotto with Feta Cheese
Adapted from FoodNetwork.com
3 large beets, scrubbed clean with greens removed and reserved for another purpose
5 cups homemade chicken stock
3 tbs. olive oil, divided
1 tbs. Brummel & Brown
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs. cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 oz. feta, crumbled
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350º.
Wash beets very thoroughly, scrubbing to remove dirt if necessary. Cut off greens and set aside for another purpose (I’ll be posting a recipe that includes them within the week if you’re not sure what to do with them and need some inspiration). Place beets on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Fold aluminum foil to create a “pouch” for the beets (pictured below¹). Place beets in preheated oven and roast about an hour or until largest beet can be pierced easily with a knife.
Let beets cool until easily handled and then remove skins (they should slide off easily). [Note: If your beets are red or ruby beets, you may want to use a pair of kitchen gloves to clean the beets, lest your hands stain and you look like you committed some horrible homicidal act.]
Cut beets into 1/2″ chunks and transfer 3/4 of beets into a food processor along with 2 cups of homemade chicken stock and blend together until smooth. Transfer combined beets and chicken stock into a medium stock pot. Add remaining chicken stock to the stock pot. Add cilantro and crushed red pepper flakes and heat over medium heat. Keep at a low simmer.
Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is transparent, 3-4 minutes. Add rice to oil and toast it for 3-5 minutes until lightly golden brown. Slowly, one cup at a time, add the simmering stock. Stir frequently. As each cup of stock is completely or nearly completely absorbed, add another cup of stock, continuing to stir. Cook, slowly adding stock and frequently stirring, until rice is al dente or to taste. This will take roughly 25-35 minutes, but may take longer.
Once final cup of stock is almost absorbed, add reserved roasted beets and stir to combine. Heat through, roughly 5 minutes. Add crumbled feta cheese and Brummel & Brown and stir to combine. Add most of almonds to the pan and stir to combine, reserving a small handful for garnish. Zak and I like a little bit of a crunch to our risotto from time to time, so I let all the liquid bubble away on the bottom and the rice to crisp up, then folded the crispy bottom into the rest of the risotto. Top with reserved almond slivers.