Rosemary Roasted Beet Risotto with Ricotta Salata Cheese

Rosemary Roasted Beet Risotto with Ricotta Salata Cheese Recipe

I had half of a beet, puréed, leftover from the harissa paste I made yesterday. Since there are no infants in the house and all the adults have teeth, I had to find some other use for it. I finally decided to incorporate the beet purée in a risotto. The beets imparted a mild sweetness and beautiful pink color to the rice. I roasted some more red beets and added them as well for a texture contrast. I flavored the dish with rosemary from the garden and topped it with some ricotta salata.

Leftover ingredients can be a great way to test out new dishes. What I often do is combine the ingredient with a basic dish, such as risotto in this case, and couple it with complementary flavors that work well with the ingredient in other recipes. This way, chances are the new dish you've created will taste delicious. The real trick is knowing really well a few recipes that are easy to modify. 


Yields: 10 servings

4 beets
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 rosemary, finely chopped
2 cups melon-seed shaped pasta
4 cups Arborio rice
12 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, warm
1 cup water, warm, as needed
3/4 cup parmesan cheese powder (see tips)
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
3 teaspoons mushroom seasoning salt
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped (about 1 sprig)
4 ounces ricotta salata, crumbled
4 tablespoons dill, chopped


For the rosemary purée:

In a small saucepan, warm 2 tablespoons of oil. Add 2 teaspoons of minced garlic and the finely chopped rosemary. Stir the mixture over low heat for about 3-4 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the liquid has almost evaporated. Transfer to a mortar and pestle (or mini-blender) and pound (or blend) the mixture into a coarse puree. Add about 2 tablespoons of water if the mixture is too thick. Add a tablespoon of dill. Season with salt and pepper.


For the roasted beets:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Wash the beets. Scrub them under tap water. Remember to trim off a little piece from the ends of the root. Cut into thirds, horizontally. No need to peel the beets. Once they are roasted, the peels will rub right off.

Place in a large bowl. Add the rosemary purée. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Season with  kosher salt and pepper. Toss well. Wrap each beet (3 pieces) in aluminum foil. Place the 4 aluminum wrappers on a baking sheet.

Roast for about 50-55 minutes. Let the beets cool for about 20-30 minutes. Once the beets are cool enough to handle, wipe the skins off using paper towels.

Peel and dice the beets into 1-inch cubes. In a mortar and pestle (or a mini-blender), crush about 1/2 cup of beets into a coarse purée. Add about 2 tablespoons of water if the mixture is too thick.


For the beet risotto:

In a deep saucepan, sauté the minced garlic cloves in the remaining oil until golden. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and add the shallots; stir until light golden. Add the pasta and rice. The butter should coat all the grains. Add 1-1/2 cups of warm broth. Stir constantly.

After bringing the liquid to a boil, add parmesan cheese powder and lower the heat to medium-low for about 15 to 20 minutes. Season with mushroom powder and a tablespoon of dill. Check the liquid and periodically add 1/4 cup of stock when all the liquid is absorbed. Let simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

When the rice is almost cooked, add the puréed beets to give the rice a nice color; add the rest of the butter. Adjust the seasoning with more salt (if necessary) and pepper. Stir well. Add the remaining roasted diced beets. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle more dill, garnish with crumbled ricotta salata and serve immediately.

Bon appétit!


You can also make this risotto with golden beets. It's just as delicious.

To give the risotto a richer mouth feel, I added ricotta salata which also adds a salty flavor. You can substitute the ricotta cheese for crumbled chèvre (goat cheese), feta cheese or even blue cheese.

Ricotta salata is an Italian dry salted sheep's milk cheese made from whey, as opposed to curds. Ricotta salata is very similar in texture to feta cheese with a sharpier, saltier, tangy flavor.

You can also add slightly toasted nuts such as coarsely crushed cashews for a balance in texture, if you like.

Here are a few tips to prevent beets from staining yourself and your kitchen:
    - Rule #1: Wear dark-colored clothes.
    - Rule #2: Grease your hands with oil before touching the beets.
    - Rule #3: Do not cut (or place) beets on a marble baking slab!
    - Rule #4: Use a plastic cutting board. You can eventually toss it or bleach it later.
    - Rule #5: If unfortunately, you stained your wooden cutting board, just as you would for wine stains, sprinkle a little kosher salt on the stain and spray a little water. Wait for an hour.

If you like other types of cuisine, check out the Indian equivalent to risotto called biryani. It's saffron-flavored basmati rice. You can also check out the Asian equivalent with Cantonese-style fried rice.

I find the starchiness of the pasta adds more creaminess to the risotto. The most similar shaped pasta to Arborio rice is the melon-seed shaped one. I buy the Mexican brand, El Mexicano "Semillas". It's sold in a 7-ounce package. If you don't have any, you can always use orzo pasta or simply use only Arborio rice.

To obtain parmesan cheese powder, finely chop a chunk of parmesan and place the pieces in a mini food processor to obtain a fine powder. I add it right after boiling the broth for flavor but I don't find the addition of more parmesan cheese necessary when serving. The sweetness of the beets is enough to flavor the dish.

Coating each grain in butter prevents them from sticking to one another.

For a healthier (and vegan) version, substitute olive oil for the butter.

I lowered the salt because I added mushroom powder, which is already salty. You can find mushroom powder in specialty stores such as Whole Foods.

You can also use chicken broth, which is actually the more standard way to prepare risotto. My hubby is a vegetarian so I use vegetable broth.

It's important to add the warm liquid in stages to ensure a homogenous cooking of the Arborio rice. Watch your risotto closely!

It's important to pour ladlefuls of warm stock. The key is to incrementally pour the liquid and never let the dish dry out, or the rice would burn at the bottom.

For this dish, I used exactly 12 cups of broth. The quantity of liquid may vary depending on the heat of the stove and how long you're cooking the rice. At the end, I let it simmer uncovered, sometimes adding another 1/4 cup of liquid until I achieve the right consistency and level of doneness. I like the rice al dente, not mushy.

Beet Risotto Recipe with Picture

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on October 18, 2009.


Wow...very original and colourful. Love it!

Trish Website Link
[ Posted at 7:51 AM on 10/18/09 | Reply ]
Jackie, would you believe I just started liking beets? I love the addition of them in your beautiful risotto, and the ricotta insalata is a perfect topping. You are so creative!

Lisa Website Link
[ Posted at 8:18 AM on 10/18/09 | Reply ]
[-] risotto central - Guest-doggybloggy
Its risottoville over here - what with the harissa and all -its looking good.

doggybloggy Website Link
[ Posted at 9:58 AM on 10/18/09 | Reply ]
[-] what a beautiful dish - Guest-OysterCulture
the color is spectacular and what a creative way to use beets. I sometimes get in a rut with beets and love the creative new ideas

OysterCulture Website Link
[ Posted at 5:45 PM on 10/18/09 | Reply ]
[-] 3X a charm - Guest-JoanNova
This appeared in my reader 3X but it is so beautiful, I didn't mind the glitch at all! Really, really nice job.

Joan Nova Website Link
[ Posted at 7:59 AM on 10/19/09 | Reply ]
Not sure what I liked the most, the recipe or the dishes... :-)

Gorgeous photography, as usual....

SallyBR Website Link
[ Posted at 9:31 AM on 10/20/09 | Reply ]
[-] Malli's Mint and Mimosas - Guest-ChilliLovesMalli
I absolutely love the appearance and sound of this dish. I will definitely give this a shot myself...since it looks delicious!!
Check out my blog if you will
Happy Holidays!

Chilli Loves Malli Website Link
[ Posted at 1:11 PM on 12/21/10 | Reply ]

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