Beetroot is one of those few vegetables which has the rare ability to reflect almost all seasons, depending on the recipe and the other ingredients in a dish. When it teams up with broad beans, however, it is definitely early summer. Time to iron the old swimming togs again in the vain hope that this will be the year. Treat yourself, buy a new pair – word from the soothsayers is that it will indeed be a scorching summer. Maybe.
We add roasted beets to the cooking stock of this risotto to intensify the flavour and colour. It isn’t always necessary, especially if you have freshly picked, juicy beets. But you wouldn’t thank me if I gave you a recipe that turned out grey-pink as beetroot dishes can do when the beets are old. We’ve got a small supply of early beets from Gortnanain Farm – tunnel grown primarily for their lucky guests at the B&B – beets that need only look at a risotto to turn it a deep purple.
I’ve suggested some fresh cheese to finish the dish – we use Bluebell Falls goat’s cheese or Knockalara sheep’s cheese, both mild, subtle and lightly acidic.
200ml (7fl oz) olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
500g beetroots, cooked and peeled
1300ml vegetable stock
4-6 small shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
300g carnaroli or arborio rice
120ml red wine
200g podded broad beans
120g fresh cheese, crumbled
To make the lemon oil, combine the olive oil, lemon zest and juice in a jug or jar. Shake well or blend and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F
Chop the beetroot into 1cm dice and toss them with a little olive oil and salt in an oven dish. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove half of the beets and put them in a food processor. Blend to a puree, adding about 400mls of the vegetable stock to get a smooth liquid. Pass this through a sieve and add it to the rest of the stock. Bring to a boil and hold it at a simmer.
Return the rest of the beets to the oven for 10-15 minutes more, until beginning to caramelise.
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a wide, heavy pan over medium heat, and sauté the shallots and garlic for 5 minutes. Lower the heat, add the rice and toast it for 7-8 minutes, stirring often. Add the red wine and simmer, stirring, until it has been absorbed. Add a ladle or two of the hot beetroot broth. Stirring often, let this simmer until it is absorbed, then add more broth. Continue in this way until the rice is just tender and almost dry. It will take about 20 minutes. Now add the roasted beets and the butter. Season well with salt and pepper.
While the risotto is cooking, bring a small pot of water to a boil and cook the broad beans for 4-5 minutes, until tender. Cool briefly in cold water and peel off the translucent skins, splitting the beans in half. Dress the beans in a tablespoon of the lemon-fennel oil and set aside.
To serve, spoon the risotto into warm shallow bowls. Drizzle some lemon-fennel oil around, then scatter the broad beans and the goat’s cheese over each portion.