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.
Lilly’s kitchen tips
- Mix regular balsamic vinegar with honey to taste for a thicker sweet balsamic glaze that’s perfect for drizzling over roast vegetables and salads.
- Store leftover feta in a tub with salted water or olive oil. Tuck in a few herbs or chilli flakes for flavour.
- 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.