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Beetroot is the star of this dramatic risotto

Lilly Higgins: This really interesting version is earthy, sweet and tasty

We have harvested our precious beetroot from the garden and want to make the most of it. I’ve pickled plenty of it in vinegar. I roasted it first, then cubed it and packed into jars with a few cloves and a hot, sugary, salted vinegar. I love pickled beetroot with slow-cooked ham, as part of a salad plate or in a salad. It’s particularly good with smoked mackerel, cutting through the oiliness well.

Beetroot is also delicious roasted alongside other root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips. I sometimes grate raw beets to add to brownies or cakes. It adds a little extra fibre, some natural sweetness and colour. Here, I’ve made beets the star of the show in this dramatic coloured risotto.

I sometimes forget how easy it is to make a risotto. It’s a one-pot dish that can be ladled into bowls and is a delicious mix of flavours. It’s a balanced nutritious meal that includes carbohydrates, fibre and protein. I love using autumnal vegetables such as butternut squash to make risotto, but beetroot makes a really interesting version that’s earthy, sweet and tasty.

I love the classic pairings with beet, such as creamy, salty feta; thyme and crunchy toasted pecans; or hazelnuts. Leftover risotto can be rolled into balls and fried to make arancini, delicious with a little extra cheese tucked inside.


I sometimes make risotto using pearl barley, although risotto rice is very easy to come by now. A slightly sweet and sticky acid such as balsamic vinegar or pomegranate molasses is really good with roast beets, so add a drizzle here before serving. The molasses is a thick, dark and gloriously tangy reduction of pomegranate juice and handy to have for finishing dishes.

This recipe differs from most risottos in that I cook the beets first, then blitz them to a silky purée. I use that as a base for the risotto, adding stock to make up the required amount of liquid. So it’s basically like cooking risotto rice in a thick soup. Ideal for a midweek dinner on busier days.

Recipe: Beetroot risotto with feta and toasted hazelnuts

Lilly’s kitchen tips

  1. Mix regular balsamic vinegar with honey to taste for a thicker sweet balsamic glaze that’s perfect for drizzling over roast vegetables and salads.
  2. Store leftover feta in a tub with salted water or olive oil. Tuck in a few herbs or chilli flakes for flavour.
  3. Pop beetroot in the oven to roast while something else is cooking. You can cook these beetroots in advance and store them in the fridge, ready to use.