Recipe by Marsha Shulman, 2008; makes 4-5 generous main course servings
3/4 pound beets (1 bunch small), roasted
1 bunch beet greens, stemmed and washed
6 to 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock, as needed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnarolli rice
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 cup red, rose, or dry white wine
Freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 to 1/2 cup, to taste)
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Season well and turn the heat to low. Stack the stemmed, washed greens and cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips.
2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large nonstick frying pan or wide, heavy saucepan and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes, and add the rice and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are separate and beginning to crackle, about 3 minutes.
3. Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The wine should bubble, but not too quickly. You want some of the flavor to cook into the rice before it evaporates. When the wine has just about evaporated, stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock (about 1/2 cup), enough to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly (adjust heat accordingly). Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful or two of the stock and continue to cook in this fashion, not too fast and not too slowly, stirring often and adding more stock when the rice is almost dry, for 10 minutes.
4. Stir in the greens and the diced beets, and continue adding more stock, enough to barely cover the rice, and stirring often, for another 10 to 15 minutes. Taste a bit of the rice. Is it cooked through? It should taste chewy but not hard in the middle. Definitely not soft like steamed rice. If it is still hard in the middle, you need to continue adding stock and stirring for another 5 minutes or so. Now is the time to ascertain if there is enough salt. Add if necessary.
5. When the rice is cooked through, add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper, and stir in another half cup of stock, the Parmesan and the parsley. Remove from the heat. The rice should be creamy; if it isn’t, add a little more stock. Stir once, taste and adjust seasonings, and serve.
Variation: I often blanch greens when I get them home from the market so that they won’t wilt or rot in the refrigerator if I don’t get around to cooking them right away. If you do this, and want to use them for this risotto, chop the blanched greens and set aside. Add them to the risotto during the last few minutes of cooking, just to heat them through and amalgamate into the dish.
Advance preparation: The roasted beets will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator. You can get ahead on the risotto, cooking it just through Step 3, then spreading the rice out in the pan or on a baking sheet. Reheat and proceed with Step 4 shortly before serving.
Yield: Serves 4 to 5 generously as a main dish