The seasons have shifted over the past few weeks; summer has given way to autumn and with it the vegetable garden has entered a new phase. To be frank, it’s a little dreary down there at the moment, plants drooping and browning, the brilliant vibrancy of summer long gone. There are, of course, still great things happening underground, autumn and winter after all are the seasons for root vegetables. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise to find a pair of forgotten beetroot thriving under the tentacles of our zucchini plant.
Beetroot is a vegetable that deserves much more praise than it gets – not least for its many nutritional benefits. More than simply an addition to the Aussie hamburger or a faithful member of the summer salad team, it’s also a wonderful, and colourful, addition to soups and casseroles – perfect as the weather cools.
I cooked my two beetroot and ate them still warm with lashings of hummus, but their presence inspired some beet recipe investigation and when I stumbled across this gem from Delicious my Sunday lunch was sorted.
I omitted the walnuts and substituted a white wine I had in the fridge for the red but otherwise I stuck to the recipe and the results were quite spectacular.
The vibrant pink colour aside – which, let’s be honest, is reason enough alone to get cooking – the combination of the sweet beetroot, the sharp goats cheese and the peppery rocket was a delight for the tastebuds.
For lunch, speed is of the essence for me. Quick, quick is the mantra because often I simply don’t have the time. But on the weekend it’s nice to linger, to spend a little more time on a meal that we often treat as simply fuel. At about 50 minutes including prep time – quicker if you’re sharp with the cutting – this dish will slot nicely into my weekend lunch repertoire.
To really get the wintery weekend feel, serve with chunks of sourdough generously smeared with good butter. Or, do as I did, and devour it before the steam has a chance to disperse.
450g can whole baby beetroot
600ml vegetable stock
50g unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g arborio risotto rice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
150ml red/white wine
125g soft goats’ cheese
Wild rocket leaves, to serve
1) Drain the beetroot juice into a jug and add the vegetable stock to make up about 1 litre.
2) Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until just softened.
3) Add the rice and thyme and stir to coat the rice grains in the butter.
4) Add the wine to the rice and continue cooking until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
5) Add the stock mixture, a ladleful at a time, stirring to prevent catching and allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next ladleful. Continue for about 20 minutes until the rice is cooked but slightly al dente.
6) Dice the beetroot into small cubes, and then add to the risotto.
7) To serve, crumble the goats’ cheese over the beetroot risotto and garnish with some wild rocket.