Sunday, October 24, 2010

CSA beet experiment : Magenta risotto!

I joined a CSA a few weeks ago. Just a two-box trial to see if I'd use the variety and to make sure it suited my grad student poorness. Turns out, a CSA is a FANTASTIC way to learn about new tastes and textures that you might never otherwise pick up at the supermarket.

Take the beet, for example. In the past, I had decided they taste like sweet red dirt and pretty much ruled them out as human food entirely. But this box had a whole lot of beets in it. I take that challenge, CSA.

So I made a beet risotto. The color was out of this world, and the taste was even better. I suggest you try it out!

Beet Risotto with goat cheese
Serves 4 large portions

For the beets :
6-8 small beets
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp crushed garlic
Few sprigs fresh thyme
Few sprigs fresh rosemary

For the risotto :
2 Cups arborio rice
2.5 Cups warm beef stock
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter (salted)
6 cloves garlic
1/2 Cup onion sprouts (used because I didn't have any onions)
Splash heavy cream (or greek yogurt, which would work great)
Goat cheese
2-4 slices thick cut bacon

Reserve 2 beets for chips. With the rest, if they are large, cut them into smaller pieces. Wrap pieces in tin foil and bake at 450F for about an hour, until tender.

Meanwhile, wrap each piece of bacon around a knife, forming a spiral. Bake, turning frequently, until crispy. Slide off the knife and set aside. With the remaining bacon fat, slice the 2 beets you set aside into very thin slices. Place them in the bacon fat, and stick them in the oven. You'll have to be careful at this point, as I burnt about half of my beet slices. Turn them often so they don't turn to beet charcoal.

In a heavy pot, add 2 Tbsp olive oil, the crushed garlic, and minced rosemary. Sautee for a couple of minutes until fragrant and softened. Remove from pot and mush with mortar and pestle until formed into a paste. Add fresh thyme to this. Reserve for later.

In the same pan, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, and your remaining garlic. Lots of garlic. The more the merrier. Sautee until lightly brown, then add butter and onions. Push around the pot for a few minutes. Add rice. Stir the rice in the olive oil butter mixture to coat all of the grains. Cook this way for about 5 minutes, toasting the rice gently. Add 2 Cups stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, adding 1/4C stock when the rice gets dry. Cook until al dente, and then add a bit of goat cheese and a splash of cream.

With the roasted beets, peel them by pushing the skin off by hand. After roasting, it'll come off easily. Chop half the beets into small pieces, and the rest puree with the mortar and pestle, or with a blender/food processor. Add the olive oil/garlic/rosemary/thyme mixture to the pureed beets and stir into the risotto well. Stir in the chopped beets, and plate the risotto.

Top with bacon twill, goat cheese, and I also added some microbasil that the CSA gave me. Beautiful dinner, and totally delicious.

Photos by Ben :

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