Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and left home at eighteen to study at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel is now a busy ...
for cooking the beetroot:
1 kg beetroot (unpeeled)
2 tblsp olive oil, plus extra for roasting
salt and ground black pepper
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
for the parmesan crisps:
100 g parmesan or parmesan-style cheese (finely grated)
for cooking the risotto:
2 tblsp olive oil
300 g onions (peeled and finely chopped)
salt and ground black pepper
700 g risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli)
300 ml dry white wine
2 l chicken or vegetable stock
150 g parmesan or parmesan-style cheese (finely grated)
100 g butter (diced)
Place the beetroot in a large saucepan of water, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer, covered loosely, for about 30 minutes or until the beetroot is very tender when pierced with a sharp knife and the skins feel loose to the touch.
Drain the beetroot and peel off the skins with your fingers (you may want to wear some rubber gloves for this), then place half the beetroot in a food processor, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and whiz to form a smooth purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Cut the other half of the cooked beetroot into bite-sized chunks, or wedges if you prefer, and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas mark 4.
To make the Parmesan crisps, arrange the grated cheese in about 20 small disc-shaped mounds (3-4cm in diameter and 2-3mm thick) on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. (You can do this very easily by using a round cookie cutter as a stencil.) Cook for 6-8 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is golden in colour. Take out of the oven and carefully remove the paper, with the crisps still on it, from the baking sheet. After 2-3 minutes, they will be crisp and can be removed from the paper and kept in a dry place for up to 2 hours before serving.
To roast the beetroot pieces, place in a bowl with some olive oil and the balsamic vinegar, mix to combine, season with salt and pepper and then arrange in a roasting tin and cook for about 30 minutes in the oven preheated for the crisps (or preheated separately, to the same temperature) or until the edges have started to darken and caramelise.
With the beetroot in the oven, you can start the risotto. Pour the olive oil into a casserole dish or an ovenproof saucepan and place on a medium heat. Add the onions, cover with a lid and cook for about 6-8 minutes or until the onions are soft but not browned, then season with salt and pepper.
Next add the rice, stirring for 1-2 minutes until it begins to slightly ‘hiss'. Pour in the wine and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until most of it has evaporated. Add the stock, stir well and bring to simmering point. Cover again with the lid and place in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the rice is al dente, then remove from the oven and allow to stand for 2 minutes. Gently reheat the beetroot purée in a saucepan, stir in the Parmesan and butter, taste for seasoning and then stir vigorously for about a minute to combine everything.
To serve, divide the risotto between warmed plates and scatter with the roasted beetroot pieces and the Parmesan crisps.