Get ready to fall in love with this vibrant, pretty in pink beetroot risotto. With creamy feta, zesty lemon, crunchy, toasty walnuts and a quick hack for cutting down prep time, this vegetarian dish is perfect for weeknights or special occasions.
Most recipes for beetroot risotto use raw beetroot, roasted for over an hour. While this is undeniably delicious – and wonderful when they’re in season – I love the ease of my version which uses pre-cooked beetroot. It cuts the prep time RIGHT down and means you can have it on the table in no time.
Risotto isn’t necessarily a quick dish to make – but it is very easy. I know it gets a bad rap, but that’s just because it’s a recipe you need to pay a little attention to as it cooks. But all that means is you have to stir it. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to stir it CONSTANTLY. It’s perfectly fine if you step away for a minute (perhaps to grab yourself a glass of wine!)
The base risotto here is very simple and classic, but the addition of beetroot, creamy feta, walnuts and lemon at the end transforms it into something very special. While the vibrant colour of the beetroot is one of my favourite parts of this dish, the flavour combination is SO delicious. The beetroot brings a delicate sweetness to the risotto, which is balanced beautifully by the creamy feta, zesty lemon and toasty, crunchy walnuts. It’s VERY moreish and I hope you love it as much as I do.
This is also a lovely option for a date night (hello Valentine’s Day) and makes a seriously show-stopping dinner party main (plus I’ll share how to easily prep it ahead of time so you can enjoy your night with your guests!
There aren’t any fancy ingredients here – everything you’ll be able to find at a regular store, and I’ll share some easy swaps you can make if you like.
- Beetroot. For ease, this recipe uses pre-cooked beetroot rather than requiring you to roast raw beetroot until tender. This cuts the prep time right down and is a great way to be able to make the recipe year-round. You can absolutely roast raw beetroot for this recipe though – you’ll need 3 whole beetroots, wrapped in foil and roasted for 1.5 hours at 180C/360F.
- Rice. Arborio or carnaroli rice is what you need here, the recipe relies on rice with a high starch content to create that ultra-creamy consistency we’re after.
- Feta. Use goat’s cheese if you like, or ricotta for a milder flavour. If you want something even stronger, creamy blue cheese is also delicious.
- White wine. Use white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice if you don’t want to use wine. You could also use red wine.
- Stock. I’m using vegetable stock, but you can use chicken stock if you like.
OPTIONAL: I LOVE adding fish sauce to basically, anything and everything. It just adds a unique depth of flavour (and isn’t fishy at all) and it’s one of my favourite secret, umami-boosting ingredients. If you’re not a fish sauce fan, or you’re vegetarian, you can skip it but you may need to add another teaspoon of salt.
How to make it
First, blitz your beetroot into a super smooth puree. I find my blender does the best job at this, but you could also use a food processor, or if you don’t have either, you can just chop the beetroot up super finely. Get your diced onion, butter and salt in either a wide, high-sided pan or a deep saucepan. You just want something that has high sides. Once that’s looking softer and the onions are more transparent, add the garlic and fish sauce if you’re using it, give it a stir, then add the wine and let it bubble up for a minute so the alcohol burns off.
Add the arborio rice and stir it through, and then you can start adding your stock.
Add a ladleful of hot stock to the pan with your rice, then stir until the stock is absorbed into the rice. At this point, add another ladleful of stock, then stir again. Continue like this, until you’ve used all but about a ladleful of the stock. Taste the risotto – the rice should now be ALMOST al dente (cooked, but with a little bite to it).
At this point, turn the heat off, then add the beetroot puree. Stir it through the risotto and marvel at the gorgeous colour change! Turn the heat back to low and add the last ladleful of stock, along with the parmesan. Let the parmesan melt on top of the risotto for a minute, then stir it through. This will just add another layer of lovely flavour and a creamier consistency to the risotto.
Remove the risotto from the heat and divide it between plates. Scatter over the feta, toasted walnuts, lemon zest and thyme leaves and eat right away!
Have any leftovers? Make cheesy, mozzarella-stuffed arancini balls! I like to add a little feta to the mozzarella in the middle when I’m using this risotto and serve it with my favourite 2-minute gochujang aioli.
How to make risotto ahead of time
This genius technique is something I learned during my time at Le Cordon Bleu in London, and is how they do it in restaurants.
- Cook the risotto until you’ve added about 2/3 of the stock to the rice. At this point, spread the risotto out onto a baking paper lined oven tray and pop it in the fridge so it cools quickly and doesn’t continue to cook.
- Then when you’re ready to serve, add it back into your pan and set it back over the heat, adding the remaining stock until it’s al dente. Continue with the rest of the recipe, adding the beetroot puree, parmesan, thyme and lemon.
This is the PERFECT hack for dinner parties or entertaining so you don’t have to be standing over the stove while your guests are around!
Got a question?
It really is as simple as stirring your rice! Arborio or carnaroli rice is laden with starch, and that starch creates a lovely creamy consistency when it’s ‘agitated’ as the grains rub against each other (aka, when they’re stirred). That’s why it’s important you stir risotto.
Yes! This recipe is a wonderful way to make use of beetroot when it’s in season. You’ll need 3 for this recipe. I like to trim the stalks from the beetroot, and then wrap them individually in aluminium foil. Pop into the oven and roast for about an hour at 200C/400F fan, or until you can easily pierce them with a knife. Leave them to cool slightly, then unwrap and you should be able to easily take the skin off with your hands. Then just chop them up ready to be pureed for the recipe.
Store the risotto in a covered container in the fridge for up to five days, then just reheated either in the microwave (heat it in 1-minute intervals) or on the stovetop over low heat. The rice will keep absorbing liquid as it sits so you’ll want to add a little water (1 or 2 tablespoons) as you heat it, just to loosen it up.
To up the protein levels of the risotto, add some grilled chicken or tofu, or you can serve it with roasted vegetables, a simple green salad, or some lovely fresh bread, like my easy no-knead chilli cheese focaccia. I also like to mix through spinach leaves when adding the parmesan at the end to add some extra nutrients.
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If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you! You can leave me a comment below.Print