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Meatless Monday: Beet risotto

Flavor your dish of risotto with juicy and sweet beets.

By Eat, Run, Read / July 2, 2012

Combine fresh and succulent beats with fluffy risotto for a simple and tasty lunch or dinner.

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Three weeks ago I started my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), resulting in an explosion of vegetables in my life.

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Mollie Zapata lives in Boston, where she is a graduate student by day and bakes for her friends, roommates, and classmates by night. She balances her decadent baking creations with healthy "real" meals, and loves creative flavor combinations, epic layer cakes, and exploring new ingredients.  Mollie blogs at www.eatrunread.com.

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A CSA is similar to a farm subscription. Its mission is as follows: “Members participate in their own food supply by committing to share in the harvest of a local grower. By joining a CSA, you express your support for locally grown, ecoganic food, and the farmers who grow it.”

Way back in the winter when the growing season began, Emily and I joined and bought one mini-share, (one medium-sized bag of veggies), which we split from June through mid-November. The shares are delivered to her office every Tuesday afternoon.

Our farm grows mostly vegetables and herbs. Other CSA farms operate in different ways: some include meat and dairy, some you buy week by week.  I like the subscription method because there’s no forethought required on my part. I will receive large quantities of vegetables all summer and fall and that is that. And for the cost of just $7.50 per week, I don’t need to buy any produce at the grocery store for 5-1/2 months.

I especially enjoy the creativity required by my CSA. I try vegetables I’ve never heard of, wouldn’t usually buy, or maybe don’t even like. I find myself googling phrases like “kohlrabi recipes,” “how to roast turnips,” “can I eat fennel raw?” and “vegetables on the grill.”

So far I’ve had yellow squash, zucchini, red potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, escarole, garlic scapes, green onions, kohlrabi, basil, Swiss chard, turnips, and lots and lots of beets.

If you think of beets as those sad squares at the salad bar, think again. Fresh beets are very flavorful, dazzlingly colorful, and absolutely delicious. I eat them in all things, recently focusing on risotto preparations. The first time I made beet risotto, I used farro as my grain of choice, but it took forever to cook.

The following recipe uses a Trader Joe’s box risotto. If you use regular risotto rice such as Arboria rice instead, I suggest adding some herbs or spices or at least a veggie or chicken broth for extra flavor.

Beet Risotto

3 medium-sized beets, cut into 1/2 –inch cubes (about 2 cups). I leave the skin on, but you can peel them if you like.
2 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 box Trader Joe’s Mushroom and Herb Risotto (or 3 cups risotto/Arborio rice)
3 cups water, vegetable broth, or chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat oil. Add risotto rice and green onions and toast while stirring occasionally until the rice is browned (2-3 minutes).

Add 3 cups water or broth of your choice and TJ’s flavor packet (if you’re using the box mix), and beets. Bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed. If the rice is still crunchy, add more liquid, a 1/2 cup at a time, until it’s done. (If you’re using the box mix, this should take about 20 minutes. If you’re using Arborio rice, it might take up to 45 minutes.)

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and enjoy! 

Related post on Eat, Run, Read: Garlic Scape Pesto Pasta

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