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Flavor From Scratch: Beet & Corn Risotto


Beet & Corn Risotto

I have the tendency to say I don't like something then never try it because I told myself I don't like it. It's really a silly thing. I'm working on cracking that bad habit. I've already figured out I like eggs and cherries after many many years of thinking I didn't like them. Two major wins and bonus that they are healthy too!

I definitely had to push myself to make this recipe because let's face it...beets are a little mystifying if you've never cooked with them or ate them before. I mean, they're BRIGHT red. Almost unnaturally so. But obviously they're natural. And supposedly very good for you. If the pictures aren't obvious enough, the rice turns out a crazy red/magenta color which is just *awesome* but also a little strange.

Beets have a very unique taste that a lot of people describe as "earthy." I tried to balance that earthiness with the sweet corn and the tangy lemon juice. I think it worked! The thyme is also a key player that adds a strong but familiar flavor to the dish.

I have to admit I started out very cautious when eating this but after trying it, I would very much say that my unjustified aversion to beets is no longer! Woo hoo! Another food crossed off my, "don't eat that" list. If you have a, "don't eat that" list that includes beets, try this recipe! If you love beets, still try this recipe! If you're somewhere in between, also try this recipe! Everyone...TRY THIS RECIPE! I think I made that point clear. Just try it! It's proven itself to be delicious!

prep time: 30 minutes, total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
serves: 6-8 side portions

  • 3 fresh beets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 ears of corn, kernels removed (or about 2 cups)
  • 5 - 5 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus lemon slices for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Peel the beets with a vegetable peeler, cut into chunks, and place on the parchment lined baking sheet. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil (remaining 2 tablespoons will be used later).
  2. Roast the beets for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and add the corn (and lemon slices if desired for garnish) to the baking sheet. Roast for an additional 25 minutes, or until the beets are tender. Once cooked, set aside to cool slightly.
  3. While the beets and corn are roasting heat the chicken stock in a small sauce pan until warm.
  4. In a separate large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the rice and toast for about 2 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Reduce the heat to low. Add 1 cup of the warm stock to the rice, stirring often until the liquid is absorbed. Keep adding 1 cup of stock at a time and stirring until the liquid absorbs between each addition. Stop adding stock when it appears to no longer absorb into the rice. 
  6. Add the beets to a food processor and blend until pureed. Add the beet puree to the cooked rice along with the corn, thyme, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.
  7. Saute over low for 3-4 minutes until heated through. Garnish with lemon slices and grated Parmesan cheese.

You can use any kind of stock instead of chicken stock, though I think it paired nicely with the thyme. I made this recipe with fresh beets but I suppose it would work with canned beets as well. If you use canned beets, drain and puree the beets and add directly to the rice (you can skip the roasting step). We ate this with grilled chicken and it was delicious!

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