Creamy Golden Risotto
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Many people think of risotto as a solidly out-to-eat meal. Making it at home just seems like too much work for some, but I’ve always been in the opposite camp. It’s actually in my list of things I almost never order when I’m at a restaurant.
Restaurants charge a premium for risotto because people think it’s hard to make. Sure, it requires some patience and stirring but it isn’t exactly hard. This perception, though, is why places will charge $15 for what is essentially $1 worth of rice and ingredients.
That said, it’s probably not a weeknight meal for most people. I find that it’s one of those meals that comes out best when you aren’t crunched for time. If you are on a tight timeline, it’ll just stress you out to try and make it. But, if you have 45-60 minutes to make an excellent dinner, it’s completely doable!
I came up with this creamy golden risotto after I saw big bunches of colorful golden beets and carrots in my market this week. They seemed particularly delicious and were just asking to be used in a dish like this. The result was one of the more colorful dishes I’ve made in a while. Bright like the sun and full of subtle root veggie sweetness.
1) Cut roots off carrots and beets. There are two ways too cook these. 1) Add veggies to an oven-safe dish with 1/4 cup of water. Poke veggies a few times with a fork. Cover with foil and roast for about 60 minutes until very tender. Then let cool slightly, peel, and cube. 2) Add veggies to a microwave safe dish and add 1/4 cup water. Poke veggies a few times with a fork. Cover with paper towel to reduce splatter and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Turn veggies and microwave for another 3-5 minutes until they are very tender. Let cool, peel, and chop.
2) Reserve some chopped beets for a garnish. Add the rest of the peeled carrots and beets to a food processor with 1/2 cup vegetable stock and 1 tablespoon butter. Process until very smooth. If the mixture seems too thick, add more vegetable stock.
3) To start risotto, heat vegetable stock on low heat until warm. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a wide and high skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes until veggies soften.
4) Add rice to the skillet and cook for about 90 seconds. Then add white wine to deglaze pan. Once white wine has cooked off, start ladling in 1/2-1 cup amounts of vegetable stock from the pot to the skillet. Stir the hot stock into the rice. Stir occasionally until the stock is mostly absorbed.
5) Repeat process for 15-20 minutes (or about 5-6 cups of veggie stock). At this point the risotto should be almost cooked through but still have a tiny bite to it. Scoop in all the veggie puree and continue to cook, stirring more veggie stock into the risotto. You might not use all 2 quarts of stock (depends on heat and skillet) but you should get close to using it all.
6) Once the golden puree is stirred into the risotto and the risotto is cooked through (taste it occasionally), season the risotto with salt and pepper, add parmesan cheese, and serve the risotto while warm with fresh oregano, reserved chopped beets, and extra parmesan.
I would not use normal red beets for this dish. You could, but the color would be bright red and maybe a bit too much. Golden beets should be very available this time of year though so grab some along with a few carrots.
You have two options when it comes to cooking these bad boys.
First, if you aren’t afraid to crank up your oven in the middle of summer, cut the roots off the veggies, add about 1/4 cup water to an oven-safe dish, cover them with foil, and roast them for about 60 minutes until they are very tender.
For those that don’t want to turn on their oven for an hour in the summer (I fall into this camp), you can also cheat a bit and cook these in the microwave! Poke a few holes in the veggies with a fork, add 1/4 cup water to a microwave safe dish, cover them with a paper towel and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Check them after five minutes. You’ll probably want to turn them and cook them for another 3-5 minutes. Whether you use the oven or microwave, the finished veggies should be very tender.
Let these cool off and then you can peel and dice them up! More on these veggies in a second. Let’s talk rice!
This Arborio rice is the stuff you need to make risotto. While you can technically use any rice, most won’t have the same finished texture. These grains are really fat and can absorb lots of liquid. Arborio also has more starch than normal rice which means the risotto will get creamy just by normal cooking.
It doesn’t take much of this rice to make a lot of risotto because it will more than double in size as it cooks.
Start the risotto by cooking some onions and garlic in a little butter. Risotto works best in a wide skillet with high walls that has lots of surface area. You want the risotto in a thin layer as it cooks.
After the veggies have softened, add the rice and let it cook over medium heat for about 90 seconds. Dry cooking the rice will heat it up and help it absorb liquid later.
After the rice is dry cooked, add the white wine to the skillet and use the liquid to scrape up any bits. It’ll cook off quickly.
Finishing the Veggies
Once your veggies are cool enough to handle, peel them and roughly chop them up. Add them to a food processor with about 1/2 cup stock and a knob of butter (1 tablespoon or so).
Pulse this mixture until it’s really smooth and creamy.
Note: if you don’t have a food processor you could just mash these with a potato masher and end up with a similar texture. It’ll probably be a bit chunkier, but still delicious!
Back to the Risotto
Here’s the part that people hate about cooking risotto. You have to slowly add warm stock to the risotto and stir it as the rice absorbs the stock. This isn’t really that hard. Turn on some tunes and pull out a trusty ladle. About about 3/4 cup stock at a time and stir it into the rice.
You actually don’t need to constantly stir the rice. Once you add the hot liquid, stir it in, and then it’s fine to let it simmer for a minute or two. Just be sure to keep a close eye on it so the skillet doesn’t get completely dry.
Once the rice is mostly cooked (taste it constantly), add in the veggie puree! I would guess that I added 5-6 cups of stock at this point in the process.
Once the puree is added the risotto should be mostly cooked. You should need to add just one last ladle of stock to finish it off. The finished rice should have a very tiny bite to it but be mostly smooth and creamy.
Finish the risotto with Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. This was my finished skillet of risotto! Total cooking time for me was about an hour and total active stirring time was probably 15 minutes.
Serve up the risotto while it’s warm and creamy with fresh oregano, chopped beets (I saved some for a garnish before I pureed mine) and extra cheese!
$15 in a restaurant. Very doable at home!
Raise your hand (and leave a comment!) if you’re a homemade risotto fan!