I'm starting to get the hang of growing beetroot and this how most of it is used. It's not really what I'd call a proper risotto, made with stock and constant stirring, rather it's the sort of dish you can knock up the night before shopping day and fold some washing (or go on the internet) while it's cooking*. And it will be good.
It contains a small amount of chilli, not so much that it tastes hot, just enough to lift the flavour a little. I also tend to use cooking sherry (Mildara Chestnut Teal) rather than red wine**, because that's normally what I have on hand and it seems to work pretty well. Red wine gives a better colour, but I think the sherry gives a better flavour. If you were cooking this for children, you could leave out the alcohol(which cooks out anyway) and the chilli but it wouldn't taste nearly as good. If I'm light handed with the chilli, Grace likes this dish and there's an amusing photo of her somewhere covered in it.
You will need
a large onion
several cloves of garlic
about half a small chilli (depending on strength, we're going for buzz not fire here)
a big handful of aborio rice per person ( I use 3 handfuls for the two of us and a Grace meal the next day)
a 400g tin of crushed tomatoes
2 medium sized beetroot (the leaves too, if nice and fresh) peeled and cubed into chunky bite sized peces
a good slosh of cooking sherry or red wine
olive oil and butter
a good handful of mint leaves
paremesan cheese for serving
Dice the onion, garlic and chilli and saute gently for two minutes in a tablespoon of olive oil and about the same of butter. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. When the onions are translucent, add the rice and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly. The rice should take up all the oil and look pearly. Add the slosh of sherry or wine and let it all bubble up. Stir well.
Add the beetroot cubes and stir. Add the tinned tomatoes and stir. Add about a tomato can and a half of water and stir well. Cover and adjust the heat so that it just simmers. Return in fifteen minutes, remove the lid, have a stir. The rice should be nearly cooked and the beetroot done. Cook a little longer if necessary. Stir to remove any excess liquid. Add the beetroot leaves if using, and the chopped mint.
Serve with shaved parmesan.
*I cook this dish in my heavy Le Creuset frypan that I've had for more than twenty years, that I cook nearly everything in. It's a very forgiving pan and it occurs to me that the cookware might have something to do with being able to leave it simmering.
**Once I made this with Port and thinking that I was using red wine, used quite a bit. The resulting rissotto was delicious and i think the extra sweetness in the port made up for the woody end of summer beetroot.