I watch MasterChef a lot. It’s a yearly addiction and probably explains why I am always thinking about food. Or cooking food. Which then leads to eating food. One of the things that is a recurring theme on MasterChef is the humble risotto. They call it the “Dish of Death” because no one can successfully make one that the judges deem worthy of them. So many people have tried and failed. Mushroom risottos, chicken and asparagus risottos, cheesy risottos – they all suck (apparently).
I have never really understood this because I find risotto very easy to make (and even easier to eat, but let’s not talk about that right now). Take this Beetroot Risotto. Delicious. It is totally worth the bright pink fingers you end up with (unless you wear gloves of course, like a sensible person) and is quite a visually impressive dish to create if you want to look good in front of guests. My rather haphazard recipe is as follows :
4 medium beetroots, trimmed of stalks and roots
1 litre vegetable stock
1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (or 1Tbs minced garlic)
1 1/3 cups (300g) arborio rice
1/3 cup water mixed with juice of half a lemon (or you can use 1/3 cup white wine)
Few sprigs of fresh thyme or Tarragon (I used a bit of both)
1/2 cup frozen baby peas, cooked
Crumbled feta and chopped parsley to garnish
Wrap each of the beetroot individually in foil and place in oven on a baking paper-lined tray. Bake for approximately 45 minutes at 200 C until beetroot is tender.
Meanwhile, bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat, pop a lid on to keep it warm, and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic, thyme or tarragon; cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until onion softens and turns transparent. Add rice; stir to coat grains with oil.
Increase heat to medium–high.
Add reserved stock one-third at a time, stirring occasionally and allowing rice to absorb stock between additions. Add water + lemon juice in last batch of stock.
Rub off beetroot skin and discard. Dice beetroot into small chunks; set aside. Once rice is al dente, stir in peas and beetroot (the more your stir it in, the brighter red the risotto becomes).
Serve risotto topped with crumbled feta and chopped parsley.
PS In your face, MasterChef!
Sometimes you just want something easy for dinner. Something comforting and simple. Something you can just shovel in while you digest the day’s proceedings. Risotto fits the bill. I actually enjoy making “proper” risotto – standing there stirring and adding stock, it’s cathartic and relaxing. But there are also times when I just want to chuck it all in the oven and let it sort itself out. Which is what you can do with this “cheat’s” recipe. Plus you can just add in whatever you have lying around the place or in the fridge. That’s what I do anyway.
You will need:
5 cups Arborio rice
2 cups stock
2 TBs butter or margarine
½ large onion, diced
Now that’s the “basic” ingredients. To them, you can add whatever you feel like. I usually bung in some diced celery, baby peas, some chopped fake bacon, a few sundried tomatoes and some chopped mushrooms, grated cheese and chopped herbs. It’s all just meant to be spontaneous so don’t worry too much. It will taste yummy whatever you put in it. I’ve made one with just celery and peas, with some grated parmesan and it was delicious.
Mix it all together in a large oven-proof dish (usually a shallow oblong or rectangle one – maybe a 6-8 cup capacity…) and cover it with foil. It doesn’t have to be a tight cover, it’s just to stop the top burning and the ingredients from drying out. Be careful while putting it in the oven – don’t spill it or drop half of it all over your slippers like I did last night. Gross! The oven should be on a fairly high temp – around 200 C. Bake for about 30 mins – you can check on it after about 15 mins and give it a stir if you like but I don’t always, it usually takes care of itself – risotto is done when all the rice is tender. Sometimes might take up to 45 minutes – it’s not an exact science but I usually find 30-35 minutess is enough. Serve with a nice grating of parmesan or whatever cheese you like. Voila!
A good dish to make if you don’t like cooking but you somehow managed to invite someone over for dinner. This recipe is enough for about 6 people or 4 piggies.
It’s Friday night and all I can say is TGIF!!! It’s been a long, exhausting week. I’ve been in horrible pain with my back and neck and I just want to strap heat packs and hot water bottles to every muscle in my body and lie down for two days straight. Will have to make do with just a couple of hours probably.
Hope your weekend is shaping up to be something awesome 🙂