I’m writing this on a flight back from Wellington where I have just blown my monthly budget and my mind on a weekend’s worth of food. Oh my, was it worth it or what! One of the highlights was this epic beef cheek and red wine risotto that reminded me how much I love risotto. I sometimes wish I had a man to woo me with food all the time. Each time I think this, I remember that they require tending to and effort, so the idea is dismissed almost immediately.
However, when I do want to attempt to woo a new suitor, risotto is my go to. Risotto is my favourite but making it for one is a little disheartening, so I jump at the opportunity to make it for someone. People seem to be under the impression that risottos are difficult, so tend to applaud when one is served to them. A good risotto just requires a little patience and a steady stirring hand; other than that they are dead simple. The last risotto I attempted to woo with was this beetroot, blue cheese and candied walnut risotto. It is pretty amazing. The poor young man was hooked; I was more pleased with the risotto’s performance than his, so back to the Tinder board it was for me.
Loosely adapted from Dish magazine.
- 4 large beetroot, peeled, halved and sliced into wedges 1cm thick
- a few good sloshes of olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- ½ cup walnut halves or pieces
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups arborio rice
- ½ cup red wine
- 7-8 cups hot vegetable stock
- 30g butter
- 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 6 sprigs of thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme), plus sprigs to serve
- 100g good creamy blue cheese
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Scatter the beetroot slices over a lined baking tray. Slosh over the olive oil until each piece is lightly coated and sprinkle over the salt and pepper. Roast until the beetroot is tender, so around 40 minutes (depending on the thickness of your beetroot). Once cooked, transfer to a food processor, leaving 12 wedges behind for garnish, and blitz into a fine crumb along with the balsamic vinegar.
- In a small frying pan or saucepan, heat the caster sugar until it has melted and begins to turn a golden colour. Throw in the walnut pieces and toss to coat in the liquid sugar. Remove from the heat and leave to set and cool.
- While the beetroot is roasting, begin the risotto. Saute the onion and the garlic in some olive oil over a medium heat until translucent. Tip in the arborio rice and cook this while stirring for a further five or so minutes. Pour in the red wine and stir gently until it has been absorbed into the rice. Slowly start to add the stock one cup at a time, constantly stirring until it has been all but absorbed before you add another cup. Continue this until the rice is al dente and the mixture flows with your spoon rather than being thick and stodgy. Stir through the beetroot crumb until the bright magenta has coloured the risotto all the way through. Stir through the butter and the parmesan cheese so that it melts.
- Serve up the risotto and garnish it with the remaining wedges of beetroot, crumbled blue cheese, candied walnuts and a sprig of fresh thyme.