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Red Beet Risotto

Ray Garcia, chef at FIG restaurant, created this gorgeous vegetarian dish, which derives its crimson color from pureed beets.

Ingredients:

For the beetroot puree:

  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 2 red beets
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion

For the risotto:

  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups carnaroli rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. red wine
  • 5 cups vegetable stock, warmed
  • 3 oz. unsalted butter
  • 3 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh chives
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the garnish:

  • 4 yellow baby carrots
  • 4 red baby carrots
  • 4 asparagus tips
  • 4 pieces golden beets
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

To make the beetroot puree, in a saucepan over high heat, bring the stock or water to a boil. Add the red beets and onion and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a bowl, reserving the cooking liquid. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them. Transfer the beets and onion to a blender or food processor and puree, adding cooking liquid as needed to make a smooth puree. You will need 1/2 cup beetroot puree for the risotto; refrigerate the rest for another use.

To make the risotto, in a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and bay leaf and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Pour the wine into the pan and simmer until reduced by about three-fourths. Add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring frequently until it is almost completely absorbed before adding more.

When the rice is tender but firm to the bite, after about 20 minutes, add the 1/2 cup beetroot puree and stir to incorporate. Stir in the butter, cheese, crème fraîche, dill and chives, and season with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Meanwhile, prepare the garnish: Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the carrots, asparagus and golden beets and blanch for 1 minute, then drain. In a fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the vegetables and sauté until just glazed. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the risotto into wide, shallow bowls and garnish with the sautéed vegetables. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Recipe by Ray Garcia, Chef, FIG, Santa Monica, CA.