If you’re a fan of pink then this one’s for you. This vibrant, snazzy risotto recipe is beetroot inspired with a twist. Blood oranges are everywhere at the moment – they’re utterly incredible, but you can use any type that suits you. Fennel is a popular combination in this trio, mainly in salad recipes. It adds another depth of flavour and is delicious if you cook it with the onions until it’s soft and caramelised. The microgreens look beautiful and give it an extra zing. A crumbling of feta on top compliments both the colours and the flavours in the dish.
Risotto can be a faff and there are many different ways of cooking it. I’ve found that lots of tasting and being careful with the liquid works for me – the quantity of stock depends on lots of different things so you just have to pay attention and use your judgement. When it’s ready the rice shouldn’t be mushy and it should look quite shiny. If the rice is done but you’re not quite ready to sit down and eat, then it’s best to just switch off the pan and cover with a lid rather than over-cooking it. I like having mine with kale on the side.
- 500g raw beetroot, peeled and whole
- 300g arborio rice
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 bulb of fennel
- 1 stock cube (optional)
- Zest and juice of one orange
- 150g feta, crumbled
- 30g butter
- Olive oil
- Handful of fennel microgreens (optional)
Place the beetroot in a pan and cover with 1L of cold water. Bring to the boil then cook for 20 mins on a medium heat (covered) until a knife can easily pierce it. Using a slotted spoon, or tongs, remove the beetroot from the pan; use the pink cooking water as a vibrant stock for the risotto. Add a stock cube (if using) and turn the pan down to a simmer, leaving the lid on.
When the beetroot has had about half its cooking time, heat the oil on a gentle heat in a heavy based pan. Add the onions and fennel and cook for 12 minutes until soft. Crush and add the cloves of garlic, cooking for another 2 minutes before cranking the heat up a bit and adding the arborio rice. Cook for around a minute, stirring continuously – this will break down the starch.
On a medium heat, add around a third of the hot stock to the rice and stir. When this has nearly evaporated add another third of the stock and keep stirring gently, on and off, to avoid the rice sticking to the bottom of the pan. Grate the cooled beetroot. Test the rice: it should still be a bit hard by this point. Add the remainder of the stock slowly, keep testing the rice and adding more liquid accordingly – it should be al dente, not too starchy by the time its ready. No liquid should remain in the pan – but if the rice is still hard then add hot water, little by little. When ready, add all of the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper and stir well. Allow the risotto to sit, covered for 3-5 minutes. Serve on warmed plates.