Time: 2 hours. Together, the fruity dark wine and the ruby-hued beets tint this risotto a festive shade of red. This recipe doubles easily for an all-vegetarian Thanksgiving crowd. Another perk: You can cook it most of the way the day before, then finish it right before serving.
1 pound baby or large red beets (about 3 lbs. if buying with greens)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup walnut halves
2 cups Zinfandel or other fruity red wine
1 qt. reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, or Arborio rice*
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 375°. Trim any beet greens (save for another use) and wash beets. Put beets in a baking pan and drizzle with 1 tbsp. oil. Cover with foil and bake until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool until cool enough to handle, then peel and cut into 1/2-in. wedges.
Meanwhile, spread walnuts on a baking sheet and toast on another rack of oven until golden, about 8 minutes. Let cool, then chop coarsely and set aside.
Bring wine and broth to a simmer. Meanwhile, heat remaining 3 tbsp. olive oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent, about 7 minutes.
Stir in rice and cook until just beginning to stick to bottom of pan, 2 to 4 minutes. Add 1 cup wine mixture and cook, stirring, until liquid is almost absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup wine mixture and cook the same way. Continue adding wine mixture 1/2 cup at a time, cooking and stirring until each addition has been absorbed before adding the next, until all of it has been used and rice is almost tender to the bite, about 20 minutes. (Use hot water if you run out of wine.)
Remove pan from heat and add butter, nutmeg, 1/2 cup cheese, and the beets. Stir quickly, cover, and let sit 4 to 5 minutes.
Stir in salt and pepper to taste and transfer to a large, shallow serving bowl or platter. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and the toasted walnuts.
*Arborio rice is widely available; for the other two, check specialty grocery stores.
Make ahead: Up to 1 day. Heat only 1 cup wine with the broth in step Cook rice through step 4, but do not add any hot water (rice will still be quite crunchy). Spread rice on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover and chill. Fifteen minutes before serving, bring remaining 1 cup wine to a simmer and warm the chilled risotto in a large pot over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup hot wine at a time to risotto and cook, stirring, letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is almost tender to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes (use hot water if you run out of wine). Continue with recipe from step
I made this risotto with a bottle of Sextant Zinfandel and roasted my own beets from our farmers market here locally. I also used beef broth instead of vegetable. It was fantastic. I've made it several times since. It's a must to use a good bottle of wine, fresh roasted beets and a good parmesan - switching to beef broth helps too. YUMMY!
My husband took one bite and said, please never make this again. After my first bite, I agreed. I used fresh organically grown beets with a great zinfandel and it turned out awful! Please don't waste your time.
We took a chance and made it for company, and we all enjoyed it. It looks very appealing, and it wasn't hard to make. I used precooked (but not canned) beets. I'm going to make it again on Sunday. If I can find beets at the market, I will roast them and see if it's worth the effort. I'll serve it with a salad that has some sweetness and a variety of textures.
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