Cooking For One: Sitcom Risotto

Posted by on Thursday Jan 7th, 2010 | Print

DISH: Beet Risotto
TYPE: Weeknight Dinner in front of the TV
MAIN INGREDIENTS: Beets, Rice

We love risotto here at BGSK. Our most notable mention of the dish was when it took the spotlight as foolproof first date fare for my friend Dave and his non-meat-eating date. But in addition to being a show-stopping deal-sealer, risotto is also the perfect vehicle for pantry items and leftovers, and though it takes more time to make than a quick Fried Rice, I also find it to be the perfect thing to whip up when I am spending a quiet evening by myself.

Risotto gets a bad rap for requiring a lot of attention and effort. But really, you can leave it alone more than you would think. After the rice starts to get going, I usually put on the TV to catch up on my shows. I’ll add a cup full of stock, keep the heat very low, then enjoy the first few minutes of my program on the couch while sipping the rest of the bottle of wine I opened for the risotto. When the commercial comes, I head back over to the pot, give it a stir, add some more broth, and head back to my show. If you cook your risotto low and slow like this, the timing works perfectly with whatever sitcom you want to watch in the meantime. At the end of 30 minutes, the rice is usually ready, and you can begin the next show, while trying not to choke on your risotto in between punch lines.

A few weeks back, I had one of these sitcom risotto nights. I know you’re probably getting sick of my beet recipes by now, but go figure, that’s just what I had on hand. I also had some smoked mozzarella and arugula leftover from these pizzettes. And since I had already made Pink Greens earlier in the week with the tops of my beets, I thought the arugula would be a great addition to balance the richness of the dish and add some great color.

When I cook for one, I usually end up making enough for my roommate as well, should she return in time from work to join me, and even if she doesn’t, I am always more than happy to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. On this particular occasion though, I was in a rather gluttonous mood. After all, I had a lot of 30 Rock to catch up on, and one bowl with one glass of wine didn’t seem to suffice. I ended up eating the second helping directly out of the pot and, after I had sucked down the remainder of the wine, I was holding my stomach in overly satiated pain, trying not to laugh so hard at Tracy Morgan that I lost my supper.

When Caitlyn came home, I was asleep on the couch with pink hands and mouth, empty pot and plate, looking as peaceful as a toddler after too many juice boxes.

From my kitchen, laughing and stirring in tandem, to yours,

Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK

**Recipe**

Beet Risotto
Makes 2 servings

As I said, you can really use whatever you have on hand for risottos. If using a woodier green like beet greens, chard, or kale, mix it in earlier than I do with the arugula so it has proper time to wilt.

Ingredients

2 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
¾ cup Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 large roasted beets (for preparation, see here)
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp parmesan shavings
2 tbsp grated smoked mozzarella (optional)
1 cup chopped arugula (optional)

Coat a dutch oven or deep sauté pan with olive oil, and cook the shallot, garlic, and ginger until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and continue to cook for another few minutes so the grains are covered in oil and beginning to toast. Add ½ tsp of salt and the wine and cook, stirring, until nearly evaporated, about 1 minute. Return the heat to medium, and add 1 cup of stock, stirring occasionally until the rice has absorbed the liquid.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue adding the stock to the pot in ½ cup portions, stirring occasionally until each batch is absorbed before adding more. You don’t need to be constantly stirring, but you also want to make sure that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan. When the liquids are almost absorbed, add the next ½ cup of stock and repeat. During this time, if the liquids have absorbed, don’t be shy in adding more stock. This is not a precise science, it may end up being more or less than 3 cups total.

In the meantime, puree one of the beets and ½ cup of stock in a food processor until blended. Coarsely chop the remaining beet, and set aside.

Once the stock is almost gone, and the risotto has only a slight bite to it, add the beet mixture. When the risotto is almost done, add the chopped beets and the arugula and cook until the leaves are wilted. Top with mozzarella and/or parmesan, and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately. Best if enjoyed in front of the television, with a bottle of wine.

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  • Puff Daddy J

    Haha. And looks as good as it probably tastes. Did you use red wine, too?

  • Heather @ (The Single Dish)

    This risotto looks great! I saw you on Ina's show, so cool! I love her recipes and her show.

  • Jennifer Hess

    Three cheers to you for spreading the word that risotto is not to be feared! People are always surprised that it's one of my favorite go-to quick meals, and that it takes far less time, effort, and drama than advertised. This version looks lovely, and I may just have some leftover beets on hand after another preparation I'm working on.

  • planet claire

    i made this recipe for TWENTY this past weekend and it was a MAJOR hit. THANKS! we chopped up the beet stems and roasted those separately with a lot of sea salt, which added some great texture to the dish. we also sauteed the beet greens in garlic, and added those into the mix along with the arugula. the smoked mozzarella really adds a nice kick. can't wait to make (and EAT) it again. so yummy!!!

  • Phoebe and Cara, The Quarter-Life Cooks

    Claire– So glad you enjoyed the dish! I'm so impressed you made it for that many people, though I think it is a perfect choice (very budget friendly too!). Your additions sound delicious. I love the idea of adding some crunch with the beet stems. I'll have to try that for next time! Hope you come back soon!

    Phoebe

  • Susanna

    I made this recently for a small group of friends, and it was fantastic. I used the beet greens (largely because I had eaten the last of my arugula for lunch). They added such complexity to the flavor. Thank you for this recipe, and for convincing me that risotto really is quite easy to make!