It all started with the colour.
I became obsessed with beetroots about three or four weeks ago. I’m a Marketing Manager (as my actual real, day-to-day, what I wake up and pay my bills with) and I was in the middle of putting together a motivational spring campaign. The campaign was all sorts of pinks and purples in its mood board so everything I did from 9am – 5pm was centred around the curiously pink yet evilly purple palettes.
I did a food shop after work and saw a vacuum pack of beetroot in the veg aisle (same place you get the spring onions, celery and avocado – by the way) and just got snake charmed. Hypnotised. It was a force bigger than me. As soon as I saw that the Use By Dates were really far away, I suddenly found myself filling my basket with packs of the purple stuff.
Suffice to say I was hooked. I was adding them to salads, smoothies and even my Blackberry & Beetroot Cake. They have this really interesting twist of sweetness to them yet still remain stubborn in their savoury. I identify with them. But adding them to a risotto is so far my favourite thing to do. Not only for that unique purple stain it gives the grain, but because of the spiky sweet yet unmistakable tang the beetroot adds to the dish.
I served this up for a friend who came over and was dubious to begin with, watching me stir with an eyebrow on the ceiling. I like surprising my friends.
Place a colander inside a jug (or do the best balancing act you can manage if your colander is huge and jug is small). Put a vacuum pack of beetroot in the colander and pierce with a knife so that all the beetroot juice falls out into the jug. Remove the beetroot and keep the juice in the jug. Add the beetroot to a food processor and blitz until it resembles mushy, purple rubble. STUN. Keep for later.
Finely chop up a celery and a few shallots and add to a pan of hot coconut oil. Sprinkle in a little salt and cook for roughly 4 or 5 minutes. Grate in a clove of garlic and stir. Add a cup of pearl barley to the pan and stir everything together so that the barley takes on the celery and onion flavours. Do this fairly quickly so that the garlic doesn’t have any time to burn.
Now pour in the jug of beetroot juices from earlier as well as a cup of red wine. I would strongly recommend adding the red wine instead of the white because the beetroot later is so recognisable, you don’t want white wine to get lost. You want something robust, so a red wine does the trick. With any other risotto though I tend to add whatever wine I’m drinking at that moment. Just saying. Keep stirring and keep cooking until the wine is absorbed.
Now get yourself a litre of good vegetable stock and same old, same old with a risotto – add a small glug at a time and stir in between each glug so that the barley has time to drink up all the stock. Once the risotto has drunk up all the stock, add the mushy beetroot from the processor and stir again to combine. Cook this for about 5 minutes.
Now add a few generous handfuls of blue cheese and keep stirring until the cheese melts and creates a deliciously sticky pan of purple risotto. Serve with a few extra morsels of blue cheese and a chop of coriander.
Now I must apologise for the state of this picture. The risotto is genuinely really beautiful and so distinct in flavour. I just didn’t have time to take a picture of the actual risotto I served. So this risotto is the leftovers I took into work and photographed at my desk. For shame. But Id rather you see the leftovers than nothing!