Risotto is one of my favourite meals and it never gets boring because you can add some many things to it. Treat it well, and it will reward you with a creamy, comforting dinner that the whole family will love. Being vegetarian, it's a great meal for a 'no meat Monday' if you're a meat eater and you could dress it up a tad for a very tasty posh dinner dish.
Root vegetables of choice
For this particular risotto (and not a traditional one I might add), we are making roasted carrots and beetroot the standout stars. These two vegetables compliment each other perfectly; the beetroot's earthiness and the carrot's inherent sweetness, never mind the stunning colour!
Getting the right cheese for your risotto
For the extra creamy texture, we're using mozzarella but you could swap that for cream cheese or even crème fraiche if you prefer, or of course, whatever you have handy in your fridge. Then to provide some sharpness to cut through all the creaminess of the dish, a little parmesan. Pecorino works just as well although has a slightly more tangy taste.
Which is the best rice for risotto?
Realistically there are probably three to choose from: Carnaroli, Arborio and Vialone Nano. There are others but they are typically hard to get hold of and more specialist. In the words of Christine Gallary, Food Editor-at-Large and graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France "Carnaroli is called the “king” or “caviar” of risotto rice, chefs like to use this one for its great flavor and because each grain maintains its shape. It also produces the creamiest risotto and is more forgiving to cook with. Arborio, is not as starchy as carnaroli, but it is the most widely available. This medium-grain rice can be easy to overcook or turn mushy, but with careful attention, can still make a great risotto. Vialone Nano
is shorter-grain rice grown in the Veneto region of Italy and cannot be grown with chemicals. It has a high starch content, cooks up more quickly than carnaroli, and yields very creamy risotto." So, with this advice under our belts, we'll be using Arborio as it is the easiest to find in the local supermarket.
Not a dish for a busy day
Risotto's benefit from time, love and care. There are a few processes to this one but they are really worth it and it will take 45-60 mins from start to finish.
So, to make your Roasted Carrot & Beetroot Risotto for 4 people...
You will need:
3 large carrots
3 fresh beetroot
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
250g Arborio rice
900ml vegetable stock
50g grated parmesan
125 grated mozzarella (the balls work just as well if you haven't got ready-grated mozzarella)
How to make the risotto:
Pre-heat the oven to 180C fan, gas mark 6.
1. Peel and trim your carrots. Grate one of them and set that to one side. Quarter lengthways the other two.
2. Peel one of the beetroot and grate, set aside with the grated carrot. Peel the other two and cut into similar sized wedges as the carrots. (I suggest using gloves and a potato peeler for the beetroot).
3. In a roasting tray, place your wedged beetroot and carrots, season and pour over 1tbsp olive oil, making sure all the veg are thoroughly covered. Put in the oven to cook for about 25-30 minutes until nicely roasted.
4. Whilst the veg are roasting, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan or large bottomed saucepan, low-medium temperature. Trim your leeks and then finely dice and add to the oil, stirring and sweating down for about 5 minutes, you are looking for a pale translucent colour, not browning. Grate the garlic over the leeks and cook for a further minute.
5. Turn the heat up a little and add the rice and cook for a couple of minutes. Now add the grated carrot and beetroot and stir through.
6. This is the time consuming bit, now add your stock, a ladle full at a time. Wait until each ladle full as virtually been completely absorbed before adding the next. Stir slowly in between each ladle full. It is this absorption and stirring that rubs the starch from the rice and creates the creamy texture we are looking for. This process should take about 20 minutes (if you find that your rice is still a tad hard for your likely and you have run out of stock, just add a little more boiling water and cook for a couple of minutes longer). Turn off the heat.
7. Stir in the mozzarella through the rice and leave on the hob so stand for a couple of minutes to relax.
8. Remove your roasted carrot and beetroot from the oven and stir half through the risotto. Check your seasoning and add if needs be.
9. Divide your risotto between four bowls. Artfully arrange the remaining roasted vegetables on the top of the rice and then sprinkle the parmesan over the top to complete your dish.
Please do share any pictures you take of your Roasted Carrot & Beetroot Risotto as we'd love to see them!