Beetroot, Feta & Lime Risotto

For the vegetarians amongst you, here is a great post-workout / carb-refuel lunch or dinner:

Sometimes a dish of warming carbs and delicious vegetables is all life calls for and this summer, with its almost non-stop wet and cold, has been calling for a lot of warming dishes! Comfort Food has been my companion since I returned from the sunny shores of life in Mauritius!

…. And yesterday was no exception….

I was sitting in a knitted sweater (in August!!!), my fingers tinged blue, shivering at the 14’C outside my window, as I watched the sheet rain, wondering what to cook for dinner! We have a friend staying who is vegetarian, which mean creativity does need to come to the forefront.

Now I am big meat lover. Some people just function better on particular diets and thats their choice. I personally crash and burn as a vegetarian, losing countless kilos, most of which turns out to be muscle mass. Not what I want! But it doesn’t mean that I don’t eat a lot of vegetarian food, I just need a nice juicy steak, fish fillet or chicken breast every other day to keep me going!

Since my return we have had a lot of vegetarian guests, and my culinary imagination is beginning to reach its maximum when it comes to sustaining veg dishes! On top of that I wanted this one to be warming!

The very first thing I learnt to cook as a child was risotto. I watched it on tv, those box televisions which had a grainy image and no watch again function! I wrote down the ingredients and the process, using a pen and paper, not the notes section of my phone! Ahhh the nineties!

Aged ten, I accompanied my parents to the supermarket, with the bold claim that tonight ‘I would cook dinner!’ And I did and better than that it worked really well! Not something that can be said for all my cooking experiments! And so my love of cooking was born!

Beetroot, Feta & Lime Risotto

Yesterday, risotto seemed the perfect fit! Easy to make, warming, vegetarian and something that I can cook with my eyes closed! Dinner decision made!

Now what would be in the fridge to make such a delight? To be totally honest there was no way I was going to the supermarket: the weather was turning me off even walking to my car!

And here is the result, I wanted to use lemon for the flavour lift but there was only a lime, so lime it was! You could try a lemon if you fancy but lime does work well with the beetroot and feta!

Beetroot, Feta and Lime Risotto

Recipe

Serves 6,

Ingredients:

Dash of Olive oil
1 x Heart of Celery, finely chopped
2 x Banana Shallots or 1 x Red Onion, finely chopped
2 x crushed or grated Garlic Cloves
450g Risotto Rice, any will do
1 glass of White Wine
1.5 litres Vegetable stock (if you are not a true vegetarian feel free to use Chicken Stock)
Make a Thyme Bouquet betting a few sprigs of thyme with string (not blue!!! For those of you who have seen Bridget Jones’ Diary you know why!)
400g of cooked Beetroot, diced
300g of crumbled Feta
100g grated Parmesan
25g Butter
Zest & juice of 1 x Lime
Chopped Parsley
Salt & Pepper to taste (I find crushed Pink Peppercorns work well here, if you have them)

Process:

  1. On a high heat, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the celery, garlic and onion or shallots. Sauté until soft and slightly translucent. Add the risotto rice and sauté for about a minute until that too is slightly translucent, keep it moving. Throw in the glass of white wine. Your kitchen should stink of alcohol and steam should billow from the pan!
  2. As the alcohol cooks off, add the stock and the thyme bouquet. Turn down the heat to a light simmer and stir occasionally, really massaging the rice.
  3. Eventually the stock will have been absorbed by the rice grains. They should be plump with a very slight bite. Turn off the heat completely. Add the beetroot, feta, 2/3s of the parmesan, 2/3s of the parsley, all the butter, your seasonings, the lime zest and juice. Stir it all in, the risotto will turn pink, mauve or red, depending upon your beetroot. Now put the lid on and leave it for ten minutes. Go and set the table, have an aperitif or whatever it is you fancy! Just don’t touch the risotto for ten minutes! You will thank yourself afterwards!
  4. After the risotto has rested, serve up and garnish with some of the remaining chopped parsley and grated parmesan. Add some more pepper if you wish!

Bon Appetit! 🙂 

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