Anyone who knows me, knows that I love making risotto and to me, it's something I often resort to when I am out of food, have no ideas and if dinner isn't served within the hour, I am going to have children's services knocking at my door. I know that to some people it is an intimidating, special occasion dish but to me, it's cooking for dummies.
At it's most desperate - I mean simple, it's just a cup or so of arborio rice, whatever vegetable I find lying at the bottom of the crisper, scrape the ice off of a handful of frozen shrimp or the last dregs from the bag of peas that I found when I was scrounging around in the freezer for the shrimp, a carton of low sodium chicken broth, a bit of butter and fresh parmesan and dinner is on the table in half an hour. Out of white wine? Use some beer or port or sherry or skip that part altogether. Sure, you are chained to the stove for 20 minutes of constant stirring but that also means you are forced to drink the white wine you just opened for the rice while you stand there stirring and you really need to take a few minutes to yourself and you know what? You have no choice but to just ignore everyone and stir up a simple pot of rice that slowly morphs into something magical right before your eyes. This is some sorcerous food alchemy, people. All you really have to do is stir it.
I knew I was going to make risotto ahead of time but I had no idea what kind until I saw these beets at the market. The beets were tiny and adorable and the greens looked so bright. I mean, just look at those pretty pink stalks. Who could resist? I do make a beet risotto but I usually grate the raw beets and stir them into the rice and they cook in there, turning the entire thing bright pink like this but I didn't feel like doing that this time. Instead, I sauteed the greens separately with some pancetta and precooked the beets as well, only adding them to the top of the finished risotto. I did cook a handful of the stalks in with the rice but they didn't colour the rice at all. The other way is easier and less work but this way is worth the effort.
serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a side