This recipe was partly inspired by a recipe for a beetroot, carrot and bean slow cooker casserole from Sara Lewis’ Ultimate Slow Cooker cookbook. The remaining “inspiration” was more like desperation when I needed to come up with some sort of dish to take to a pot luck dinner and the fridge was fairly bare apart from plenty of beetroot and carrots. A salad was thrown together and turned out to be one that the family voted a ‘make again’. It has been through several tweaks and trials and each has been a success with a different member of the family. So it can be changed according to what you have available: use brown onions instead of red and green or savoy instead of red cabbage. The cabbage can be lightly steamed instead of raw and the green beans left out completely or swapped for another green vegetable such as broad beans or broccoli. The amount of dressing is enough to coat the vegetables and it can be incorporated before serving. Omit the garlic aioli if desired (or use mayonnaise instead) although I like the slight tang it adds to the dressing. The salad is filling enough to be served as a main course and any left overs are perfect for lunch the next day.
Our vegetable garden is a success – the produce we are picking is the driving force of deciding what’s for tea. The Anster advised me to hurry up and find something to do with beetroot as they were ready. So turning to the cookbook library, a risotto sounded just the ticket. The Anster found a nice looking recipe that seemed quite easy to execute – but I took over and found a different recipe – my recipe was way better because it had apples in it.
Beetroot Risotto with Baked Apples, Rocket and Balsamic Glaze sounded intriguing. The ingredient list seemed straight forward enough – I didn’t have rocket but the silverbeet was begging to be used so away I went.
The recipe is a little scanty in details but that has never bothered me in the past. The beetroot was pulled, photographed, scrubbed and boiled into tender submission while I gathered the remaining ingredients. As the recipe only fed 4, and we had 6 to feed, I roughly increased it by half again.
The results from the family were:
- Mopp – it would taste better with sausages in it (therefore defeating the purpose of a vegetarian dinner)
- Miss M – it’s ok (and she loves risotto so I’m guessing she won’t want me to make this one again)
- Mr L – it looks better than it looks (he insisted that was what he meant and spent a good half of the meal trying to help us understand the logic of his statement but we still have no clue what he was on about)
- The Anster – yum
As for me – I have to agree it didn’t look as though it was going to be worth all the effort of making it but the risotto had an incredible depth of flavour. I think next time I’d parboil the rice to speed up the process.
Beetroot, Apple & Silverbeet Risotto
450g fresh beetroot
2 medium brown onions
6-8 cups vegetable stock
1 ½ t caraway seeds, dry roasted and crushed
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
400g short brown or red rice
2 large apples
1 large bunch of silverbeet, trimmed and sliced
Salt & pepper
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 T apple syrup
Scrub the beetroot and twist off the greenery. Snap off long roots. Cover in cold water and bring to the boil. Boil until the beetroot is tender. Drain the beets (reserve the cooking liquid) and cool them a little before skinning – an easy way to do this is to pierce the top end with a fork then push the skins off with the back of a spoon or your hands if you don’t mind getting vivid pink fingers – they slip off really easy. Dice the beetroot. Place half the diced beetroot with half the cooking liquid in the blender and purée until smooth. Set aside for later.
Peel and finely dice the onions .
Prepare stock in a large pot and keep over very low heat so the stock retains its heat.
Place caraway seeds into a separate small frying pan or pot and heat gently, tossing now and then, until fragrant. Tip into a mortar and pestle and crush the seeds.
Heat a large frying pan (I always make our risotto in a large cast-iron electric frying pan). Add oil and butter. Once melted, chuck in the onion and rice and stir until the rice is well coated with the butter mixture.
Add the seeds to the large frying pan and stir until they are mixed through the rice.
Add a cup of hot stock to the rice one cup at a time to the rice, only adding more stock when the first lot has evaporated. By the time the stock is all added, the rice should nearly be done. If more liquid is needed, add the reserved beetroot juice, or hot water. The amount of liquid required depends on the type of rice used and the speed at which it cooks – I didn’t have enough brown rice so I added some medium grain red rice which takes a long time to cook but has a gorgeous nutty flavour. I used the full measure of stock, all the beetroot juice and extra hot water before the rice was cooked sufficiently.
Meanwhile prepare the apples. Quarter and core the apples, then cut each quarter into about 3 slices. Cook apples – I microwaved the apples with a little water until they were tender, however they can be baked or pan-fried with a little butter.
Prepare the balsamic glaze – place balsamic vinegar and apple syrup in a small pot and heat gently until the mixture is quite thick and syrupy. Cover and set aside – keeping warm until required.
Wash silverbeet well then shake off any moisture. Remove stalks and discard, then slice the leaves finely.
Once the rice is nearly done, add the puréed beetroot and silverbeet to the frying pan. Stir through and heat until the silverbeet is wilted. Taste the mixture and season to taste.