Friday, February 07, 2014

Beet Risotto and Beet Greens Make a Meal

With evening temperatures dipping down into the low 20s during a recent cold snap, it was even too cold for an intrepid griller like Dave to light up the Weber. I mean, he's out there every Christmas roasting a bird on the fire, but this cold was chilling even his New England roots. I'd just picked up some boneless pork chops on sale in the butcher's case, so it was time to give pan-roasting* a try. Plus turning on the oven would help heat the house and give our chugging, decrepit furnace a break.

Beet risotto in process.

I was walking by the produce bins on the way to the cash register thinking I'd pick up some potatoes and kale to complete the meal when I spied big bunches of beets for $2.99. The best part was that the leaves and stems weren't in the usual sad, tattered state, but were waving at me like a traffic flagger to slow down and look.

Sautéing the greens.

Beets and greens meant I could have dinner on the table for a total of $12, a great deal to feed three adults. With rice in the pantry and chicken stock in the freezer for a beet risotto, and the greens sautéed to make a bed for the chops, a little over an hour later we were sitting down to a dinner fit for company. The nearly iridescent color of the risotto nicely played off the greens and chops, but even without the pork this would make a great meal all by itself, and make it an even better deal!

Beet Risotto

2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. arborio or carnaroli rice
3 med. red beets, chopped in 1/2" dice
5 c. chicken stock
Salt to taste

Heat butter or margarine in large saucepan or deep skillet over medium heat. When it melts, add onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and stir to heat, then add rice. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add beets and a ladle of stock. Stir until liquid is absorbed, then add another ladle of stock. Repeat, stirring frequently to keep it from sticking, until the rice is creamy but still has a slight crunch, about 20 minutes or so. Add salt to your taste and serve with parmesan in a bowl for sprinkling.

* * *

Beet Greens

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch beet greens and stems
Salt to taste

Separate stems from greens. Chop stems into 1/4" slices. Chop greens into 1/2" slices.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-low heat. When it shimmers, add garlic and sauté briefly to heat. Add stem pieces and sauté until tender. Add greens and sauté until wilted. Salt to taste and serve.

* Basic method here, though I'm still working on it.

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