Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Red Heart Risotto

Jeremy goes to school for 12 straight hours on Mondays, so that meant we definitely did not have some amazing Valentine's Day planned.  In fact a student asked Jeremy what his plans were and he told her he was in class until 7:30.  So she asked what his plans were for after that.  Jeremy said, "I dunno--maybe watch a movie?"

I told Jeremy that I'm sure he completely crushed that poor girl's dreams about life after marriage!  Because after you get married you're supposed to have romantic special Valentine's Days forever--right?!

Well since we had zero plans for actually doing anything special I thought the least I could to was make a celebratory dinner.

I saw some ideas online for using beets to make "pink" rice salads for Valentine's Day.  I loved the idea but wanted to be sure it would actually be enjoyable to eat not just look at so I really didn't want to experiment with a new recipe.   I thought about just making rice balls, but since Owen wasn't a huge fan of the beets last time I served them (just steamed with butter and salt) I thought I would need to flavor them a little more.  Then I realized the perfect recipe to use.
   Risotto.  My family loves risotto.  It's very basic, but the broth and cheese make it very flavorful--I knew it would be perfect to add beets to.  All I did to make it red was add the raw beets to simmer in the broth and they bled their color into the broth which I was using to cook the rice.  Thus we ended up with striking red rice.  And cute little heart-shaped beets as well. 

And it was as big a hit as I hoped for.  Owen ate the beets up (of course he did have to remind me before trying them that he didn't like beets last time), Jeremy got a special dinner, though it wasn't the candle-lit sit down dinner of anyone's dreams, and I was satisfied with a job well done--it's always nice when things turn out like you hope. 

For the sake of interest, beets aren't the only thing you can cut into hearts either.  I also put heart-shaped carrots and strawberries in Owen's lunch Monday.

I also saw some more great ideas for heart shaped food.  Next year Owen's bento box will be filled with heart-shaped food!  (I can dream.)

Red Heart Risotto

1 medium beet-washed and peeled
3 tablespoons butter-separated
1/2 cup onion-diced
1 cup rice (traditionally Arborio)
1/2 cup white wine (or substitute with more broth)
4 cups chicken broth
2oz fresh Parmesan cheese--grated (matchbook sized piece ungrated about 1/4 cup grated)

Put 2 tbsp butter in a large saute pan.  Add diced onions and cook until softened.  Meanwhile put broth in a pot over medium low heat an bring to a simmer.  Cut beets and add to simmering broth.

I cut the beet into 1/4 inch round slices.  Then cut each round like a pizza into 6 wedges.  Then shaped each wedge into a heart.  I tossed all the hearts and all the little trimmings into the broth.

When onions are softened, add the rice and stir for 1 minute to absorb any extra butter.  Add the wine and stir until rice has absorbed all the liquid.  Keeping the broth at a low simmer, adding it to the rice 1/2 cup at a time, waiting each time to add more until the liquid is mostly absorbed, stirring often.  The whole process should take about 30 minutes.  With the last 1/2 cup of broth transfer the beets into the rice pan as well.  When all the liquid is mostly absorbed turn off the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the cheese.  Add salt if needed and pepper.  Serve hot!

This is a good recipe without the beets as well.  Usually when we make it I put two tablespoons of putter in a different saute pan and 1/2 pound of sliced mushrooms.  I cook those down and add them when I add the cheese.  Delicious and creamy and we'll eat it for our main dish.

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