Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese & Salted Kale

Feb 26, 2012 by

There are two glaring reasons why I’ve never made risotto:
1) I’ve been tricked into ordering risotto three times in my life, each time expecting to finally see the magic in this sticky, monochromatic, cheesy blob. Each time I’ve only felt more disappointed, foolish and disenchanted.
2) Risotto is the dish that famously gets people sent home on Top Chef. So, in other words, if the nation’s top chefs can simultaneously burn a perfectly good cooking pot and a shot at $100k while making it, then the dish is 100% trouble and not worth attempting.

That said… In the spirit of taking on new culinary challenges in 2012, I decided to face my risotto prejudices head on. After all, its just “rice with stuff in it,” ie: a perfect creative starting point.
As said before, my main issues with risotto are that the flavors seem one-dimensional, there’s a monotonous texture that gets dull after the first few bites, it looks totally unappealing on the plate (like a puddle of sandy butter) and immediately after eating it, I feel like I need to engage in a week-long, carb-free cleanse.

Ok, so attacking these problems one by one, I decided to make vegetables (not just little ones, but visually-pleasing crunchy ones) a big component of the dish. I wanted to hit all of the big flavor and texture categories: sweet, salty and acidic, crunchy, crisp and velvety, luxurious and also clean. Staring back at my recipe notes, I felt like I’d just written a craigslist ad for my future husband. Certainly, one dish couldn’t contain every one of these wonderful characteristics. And yet…

When I first tasted this crazy concoction, my first thought was “oh my god, I finally get it.” It was a multi-sensical love affair. Trust me on this, risotto-haters. Get ready to be surprised. Oh happy dance! Double-huzzah!




1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted butter
2 medium-sized beets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups chopped white onion
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
2 cups Arborio rice
¾ cup red wine
6-8 cups low-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
3 oz. fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled
2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 heaping teaspoon grainy English mustard
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups shredded mustard greens, slightly blanched
a pinch of ground sea salt



Melt the butter (yep, all of it) in heavy large saucepan over medium heat.

When the butter is fully melted, add the risotto to the pan. Toast the rice, stirring frequently to turn every grain a toasty caramel color.

Remove the rice from the pan and set aside. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds or until it’s slightly browned, then add the thyme, cubed beets and chopped onion.


Cook until the onion is softened and clear, about 8 minutes. At this point, the beets should be slightly cooked but still have a good deal of bite. Don’t worry, they’ll cook more later on.
Add the toasted rice to the onion and beet mixture, stirring to combine.

Also add ½ cup wine and bring the mixture to a low boil. Turn the heat down (the mixture should be lightly simmering) and continue to simmer until the wine is mostly evaporated.

Add ¾ cup of the chicken broth along with the goat cheese and Parmesan, and stir every minute or so, continuing to aerate the rice.

When the first portion of chicken broth is absorbed, add another ¾ cup and repeat the simmering/stirring technique. Continue this until all of the broth is absorbed. I recommend tasting the rice after the 6-cup mark to make sure it’s not getting too soft. If you think it requires more time, just keep adding broth until it taste happiest to you. As I’ve recently learned, risotto tends to absorb and cook on it’s own lazy and imperfect timetable, so just pay attention. Remember that risotto is a work of love and patience. So, put on some great music, dance around, smile and send the dish some positive energy. It will pay off!
Once all of the broth is absorbed, the risotto should be fully cooked through.

Just before turning off the stove, stir in the vinegar and mustard. Basically, the acidity of these ingredients are going to cut through the cheesy, starchy density of the meal, creating a balance that will earn you points with any risotto-skeptics who are coming for dinner.

Just before serving the risotto, drizzle the olive oil into a large pan and heat to medium heat. Add the shredded kale along with the sea salt, and stir it around the pan for about a minute just to wilt it slightly.



To serve: place a large ladle of the risotto onto the plate, season it with salt and pepper, and then add a heap of the kale to the center. Voila!


 Original recipe by Bre Goldsmith



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