Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese

Shredded beets lend an earthy sweetness and vibrant color to this risotto. Honey goat cheese is the perfect tangy complement.

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By now, you all know that my love of risotto runs deep. I’ve shared varieties with sweet corn and roasted tomatoes, beer, cheese and sausage, pumpkin, as well as avocado and corn.

But this risotto? This risotto is full of bright red beets.

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I don’t know when it began, but I’m in the midst of a real love affair with beets. They taste like dirt, but in the absolute best way possible: sweet and earthy. I love to prepare them in many different ways: pickled; raw and sliced thinly in a salad; chopped and roasted with salt, pepper, and honey… and now, cooked into a creamy risotto.

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You’ll need (yields 4-5 servings):

  • 3 medium-sized red beets
  • 5 cups broth (vegetable or chicken) and/or water
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 medium-sized shallot or onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles (preferably honey goat cheese)

Start out by peeling and rinsing your beets. Given that they grow in the ground, they can be quite dirty, so a quick rinse after peeling keeps you from biting down on any kind of unpleasant grittiness later on. Grate/shred them using either a box grater or the shredder blade in a food processor. If you go the box grater route, bear in mind that the beets will stain, well, everything. Consider wearing a pair of rubber gloves while you grate by hand. Set the shredded beets aside.

Heat the 5 cups of broth and/or water in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer and then turn it to low.

In a heavy-bottomed pan or dutch oven, heat the olive oil and butter until the butter melts. Add the shallot and garlic. Sauté until the garlic is very fragrant.

Add the arborio rice to the pot and stir so that every grain gets coated in the olive oil and butter.  Allow the rice to toast a bit, stirring occasionally. Once the rice starts to smell nutty, add the shredded beets, and stir to combine.

Turn the heat off under the broth, and add a couple of ladles of broth to the rice. Stir pretty much continuously until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Add more liquid, continue stirring, and repeat the process until the risotto is creamy and the rice is no longer al dente (take a bite or two!). You may or may not use absolutely all of the broth.

Add the Parmesan cheese, stirring until it has been incorporated. Taste, and add salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with crumbled goat cheese.

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Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese | A Nerd Cooks
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Sweet Corn Risotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

The flavors of sweet corn, tangy roasted cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil make this risotto taste just like summer in a bowl.Sweet Corn Risotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes | A Nerd CooksThis risotto is summery AF.  There’s no way around it.

Sweet corn, perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil play so, so well together.Sweet Corn Risotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes | A Nerd CooksThe sweet corn flavor factor is amplified in this risotto, because in addition to using corn kernels, I also used about a cup of pureed corn in place of some of the broth.  It takes up a little extra time, but is well worth it.

In search of even more risotto goodness?  This Avocado and Corn Risotto is also pretty dang summery.  You can’t go wrong with Beer, Cheddar, and Sausage Risotto, IMO.  And, really.  Pumpkin Risotto is appropriate at all times of the year, no matter what anyone else says.Sweet Corn Risotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes | A Nerd Cooks

This risotto was inspired by this recipe found on Celebrating Sweets.

You’ll need:

For the roasted tomatoes:

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper

For the corn:

  • 4 ears of fresh sweet corn, shucked (sub ~3-4 cups of frozen corn, thawed, if needed)
  • 2-4 tbs vegetable or chicken broth

For the risotto:

  • 5 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • fresh basil, cut into ribbons

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Combine the cherry tomatoes, olive oil, and salt and pepper on the prepared baking sheet.  Roast for 1 hour, checking after 30 and 45 minutes, to ensure that they aren’t burning.  Set aside to cool once done.

Cut the kernels off of the 4 corn cobs.  Blend ~1 cup of the kernels in a blender or food processor with 2-4 tbs of broth.  Use just enough broth to make a mostly smooth puree. Set the pureed corn and other kernels aside for a few minutes.

Heat the 5 cups of broth in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Bring it to a simmer and then turn it to low.

In a heavy-bottomed pan or dutch oven, heat the olive oil and butter until the butter melts.  Add the garlic and remaining corn kernels.  Saute until the garlic is very fragrant.

Add the Arborio rice and  stir so that every grain gets coated in the olive oil and butter.  Allow the rice to toast a bit, stirring occasionally.  Once it starts to smell nutty, add the pureed corn.  Stir occasionally until almost all of the puree has been absorbed by the rice.

Turn the heat off under the broth, and add a couple of ladles to the rice.  Stir occasionally until, again, almost all of the liquid is absorbed.  Repeat this process until the risotto is creamy and the rice is no longer al dente (take a bite of it!).  You may or may not use all of the broth.

Add the Parmesan cheese, stirring until it has been incorporated.  Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired.  Top with roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh basil.  Take a bite of summer.

Sweet Corn Risotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes | A Nerd Cooks

Beer, Cheddar, and Sausage Risotto

This risotto combines several of my favorite things: beer, cheese, sausage, and carbs.  It’ s a fun riff on traditional risotto recipes that call for white wine as a flavor base.Beer, Cheddar, and Sausage Risotto | A Nerd CooksIt’s no secret that I love a good risotto.  I make it pretty regularly at home (see pumpkin risotto and avocado and corn risotto).

Many risotto recipes start with white wine.  But I got to thinking… why not use beer instead?  Before ladling in chicken broth, I added a fruity Belgian witbier to the pot.  It was definitely a good call.  The relatively mild beer doesn’t overpower the dish, but does impart its flavor in the background.

Plus, come on.  Beer + cheese + sausage + carbs = liiiiiiiiiiife <3Beer, Cheddar, and Sausage Risotto | A Nerd Cooks

You’ll need:

For the sausage – 

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb bulk sausage (spicy sausage would be great!)

For the risotto – 

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 12 oz. beer, room temperature (I used a local witbier)
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup gouda, shredded
  • 3 green onions, white and light green parts sliced thin
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a heavy bottomed pan or Dutch oven, heat 1 tsp of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the bulk sausage,  crumbling as it cooks.  Once the sausage is cooked through, remove it to a plate lined with paper towels.  Set aside.

Add the chicken broth to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.  Bring it to a simmer, then turn down to low.

Wipe the pan out with a paper towel.  Add 1 tbs olive oil and 2 tbs butter over medium heat.  Once the butter has melted, add the onion and cloves of garlic.  Cook until the onion has softened and is translucent.

Add the arborio rice and stir so that every grain gets coated in the olive oil and butter.  Allow the rice to toast a bit, stirring occasionally.  Once it starts to smell nutty, add the beer.  Stir occasionally until almost all of the beer has been absorbed by the rice.

Turn the heat off under the chicken broth, and add a couple of ladles to the rice.  Stir occasionally until, again, almost all of the liquid is absorbed.  Repeat this process until the risotto is creamy and the rice is no longer al dente (take a bite of it!).  You may or may not use all of the chicken broth.

Add the cooked sausage, shredded cheeses, and sliced green onions.  Stir to combine.  Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.

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Pumpkin Risotto – Updated

It’s that time of year again!  This risotto is creamy, savory, and delicious.  The slight sweetness of the pumpkin still shines through.  This risotto will put in in an Autumn state of mind.Pumpkin Risotto | A Nerd Cooks

It’s that time of year again!

Love pumpkin?  Ever tried it in a savory dish?  You should!Pumpkin Risotto | A Nerd Cooks

Personally, I love using pumpkin in savory applications.  Yes, of course I enjoy a slice of pumpkin bread as much as the next guy, but it actually makes a really nice flavor base for pasta sauces and risotto!

Plus, look at that gorgeous orange color.  Does it get better than this?

Wait, it does!  It’s ALSO good for you!Pumpkin Risotto | A Nerd Cooks

I originally blogged about this pumpkin risotto 4 long years ago.  It was definitely time for a face lift.

You’ll need:

  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock/broth
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 – 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium pot, heat the broth/stock to a simmer.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, add the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the onion, garlic, and thyme, stirring occasionally.  Cook until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the rice, stirring to coat each grain with the butter and oil.  Stirring fairly constantly, wait until you smell a nutty aroma.  That lets you know that the rice has been toasted a bit.

A couple of ladles at a time, add the warmed broth/stock to the rice.  Stir constantly.  Once the liquid has been absorbed, add another couple of ladles.  More stirring.  Repeat this until most or all of the liquid had been incorporated and absorbed, and the rice has a nice tender bite to it.  I don’t usually end up making use of all 5 cups of broth, so if you don’t either, that’s fine.  Rely on your eyes and occasional bites of the risotto to guide you.

Add the pumpkin puree, stirring to incorporate well.  Add the spices and cheese.  Stir stir stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pumpkin Risotto | A Nerd CooksPumpkin Risotto | A Nerd Cooks

Avocado and Corn Risotto

Risotto = ❤  It is my jam.  I love to eat it and make it.  I mean, it’s obviously delicious and comforting.  But, there’s something about the process of standing over the stove and stirring, stirring, stirring.  It’s slow and methodical.  And I dig that.

Avocado and Corn Risotto | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe was adapted from one found on the blog Amuse Your Bouche, and also inspired by the avocado risotto at Joe Squared in Baltimore.  If you’re in the Baltimore area and haven’t gone there, do yourself a favor and go immediately.  Everything there is really, really good.

You’ll need:

  • 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 avocados
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup corn kernels, frozen or fresh
  • shredded cheese (I used mozzarella and parmesan)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • basil, cut into ribbons

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, start heating the broth.

In a small bowl, coarsely mash the avocados and lime juice.  Set aside.

In another medium sauce pan, turn the heat up to medium and add the butter and olive oil.  Once the onions are translucent and softened, add the garlic and cook for a few minutes more.  Then, add the arborio rice.  Stir the rice around, making sure to coat each grain with the butter and oil.

Once the rice starts to smell nutty, add a ladle or two of the warm broth to the rice.  Stir constantly.  Once the rice has absorbed that liquid, add another ladle or two.  Repeat the process until all of the broth has been absorbed and the rice is no longer crunchy (taste some!).

Add the corn, and stir to combine.  Add your choice of cheese, in whatever amount you desire. I tend to add what most people would consider to be an obscene amount of cheese.  Do what you like.

Add the mashed avocados to the risotto, stirring to combine.  Toss in the basil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Dig on in!

Avocado and Corn Risotto | A Nerd Cooks

Baked Lemon Risotto + A Trip to San Diego, CA

I was in San Diego, CA last week for the College on Problems of Drug Dependence annual meeting.  Though I definitely did a lot of work and networking at the actual conference, I was fortunate enough to do some sightseeing with friends.  Indulge me for a moment, if you will, as I show you some photos from the trip.

Our first stop was Torrey Pines State Beach.  It is so, so beautiful there.  We got to do some hiking, and then I got to see and splash around in the Pacific Ocean for the first time.  I definitely got to cross some stuff off of my bucket list on this trip.

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After Torrey Pines, we drove to La Jolla Cove (which also has some insanely beautiful views) where we got to see sea lions!  They were sunning themselves on the rocks, barking at each other, and occasionally flopping into the water.

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Another day, a few of us drove over the Coronado Bridge to, you guessed it, Coronado.  We ate some lunch, and then walked over to the beach and saw the historic Hotel del Coronado.  I did a little walking on the sand (and practically burned the bottoms of my feet in the process, it was so hot) and took a few more pictures of rocks and the beautiful beach.

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Such an amazing trip.  I can’t wait to go back with Sean for a proper vacation.  And just to prove that I did actually do some work, here’s a photo of me in front of my poster, presenting some findings from my dissertation work.

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Now, let’s get to the food (the real reason you’re here).  Making risotto on the stovetop isn’t all that difficult, but I made this when I was feeling particularly lazy one evening.  It’s perfect for those kinds of days.

Baked Lemon Risotto | A Nerd Cooks

I found this recipe on Joy the Baker’s website.  It serves 4-6.

You’ll need:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon zest
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 32 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste
  • butter, for greasing pan
  • more cheese, lemon zest, and thyme leaves for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter/spray a 9×13- inch baking dish and set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until translucent  (~5 minutes).  As the onions are finishing cooking, add lemon zest, thyme leaves, chili flakes, and black pepper.  Toss to heat through and set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together uncooked rice, cheese, and the onion mixture.  Place this mixture in the prepared baking pan.  Pour chicken stock and water over the rice mixture.  Stir gently to ensure even cooking.

Place in the oven and allow to cook, uncovered, for 37-40 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes.  You’ll know that the rice is done when the liquid is absorbed and mixture is cooked through and creamy.  If the rice mixture is still crunchy (go ahead and taste a bit to see), add more hot water or hot chicken stock, about 1/3 cup at a time.  Just as an aside, it may just be my oven, but mine took closer to 50 minutes to finish cooking.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before tasting.  Add salt, to taste.  Serve topped with lemon zest, fresh thyme, black pepper, and more cheese.

Lemony Asparagus Risotto

I made this over the weekend for Sean and myself.  The lemon and asparagus just scream “spring”.  Though I used the zest of two lemons for this recipe, the juice was used to make an equally spring-y Meyer Lemon Yogurt Cake.  So stay tuned for that recipe, too!Lemony Asparagus Risotto | A Nerd Cooks

You’ll need:

  • 3 tbs olive oil, divided
  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends broken off and discarded, chopped into large pieces
  • zest of two lemons, divided
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine*
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • grated parmesan cheese, to taste
  • a few tbs ricotta cheese (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Toss the chopped asparagus with 1 tbs olive oil, zest of 1 lemon, and salt and pepper.  On a foil-lined baking sheet, roast asparagus for 9 minutes.  Set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed pot, add 2 tbs olive oil and 2 tbs butter.  Heat over medium heat.  Once melted, add the onion and garlic.  Saute until the onions are translucent.

Add the rice and stir to coat with oil and butter.  Continue stirring until the rice smells nutty.

Add the wine and stir continuously until it is mostly absorbed.  Add one ladle-full of broth.  Stir pretty much continuously until the liquid is mostly absorbed.  Add another ladle-full, and stir some more.  Repeat this process until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.

If desired, dollop in a couple tbs of ricotta cheese for extra creaminess.  Add the grated parmesan and remaining lemon zest, too.  Stir to combine.  Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.

Add the roasted asparagus, stir to combine.  Enjoy!