Beet & Chard Risotto

Serves
4

The frost is yet to bite and our rainbow chard is still shining happily at our organic allotment along with some great little baby beets and leeks; the winter pickings, both slim and richly rewarding. This is a great, simple, cheap little recipe to celebrate the leaves and the season, which was made manifest, from earth to mouth, in about an hour and a half, topped with some smashed walnuts and freshest, young ewe’s cheese – a beautiful little symbolic bowl of ‘what we’re all about.’

Here we’re keeping the beets for some happy roasting and using the leaves instead. Often overlooked but eminently nutritious, they impart exquisite colour and texture. We opted for the traditional arborio here but you could equally use pearled spelt, barley or buckwheat, depending on your mood or dosha. Variety as ever is what it is all about and a gift that our soils continue to give when our eyes are open. We take widely and moderately from the disparate benefits and allow our bodies to recover from the specific toxins. However beneficial an ingredient our use of it should be moderate, for so many reasons – for seasonality, for variety, to prevent over-farming and preserve quality and because it is better for our bodies to have all things, in moderation.

Ayurvedic Note
The leaves of the beetroot (or beets), are great for Kapha with their natural bitterness; Vata can eat on occasion, and Pitta less so. The fact that the greens are here cooked, makes them more digestible and beneficial to all doshas. The beetroot itself, however, is tri-doshic, and is a great base for soups, warm salads, risottos (such as this), and as a topping for thin and crusty winter pizzas (yum). Grain-wise, Vata gets on well with all rice, while barley is always great for Pitta and Kapha.

Ingredients

4 / 5 large leaves of rainbow chard with stalks
4 / 5 large beetroot leaves with stalks
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp of good, organic vegetable bouillon / 750ml of good vegetable stock
1 young leek / medium sized red onion
Good, organic extra virgin olive oil
A thumb sized knob of butter
4 spilling handfuls of arborio / risotto rice
1/2 glass of white wine
A handful of smashed walnuts
A thumb sized chunk of pecorino
100g of young soft ewe's cheese (We used a great one from Homewood in Bristol via Abel and Cole)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Sumac

Method

  • 1 Warm 1 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan on a medium heat, add your leek / onion and stir for 2 minutes. Add your crushed and chopped garlic and stir for a further minute
  • 2 Add your risotto rice and stir in the oil, onions and garlic for a minute or so before adding your thyme and white wine, season with a decent pinch of sea salt and good grind of black pepper
  • 3 Stirring constantly, add your stock (or bouillon stirred into 750mls of boiled water) ladle by ladle as it is soaked up by the rice. Maintain a good simmer and always allow a good blanket of liquid on your rice
  • 4 Add your butter after 10 minutes and your shredded beet and chard leaves after 15 and continue to stir and add your stock for a further 5 minutes, taste your risotto for texture and seasoning and add further stock, salt and pepper accordingly
  • 5 When you have a silky texture and rice with a hint of bite but no such hint of chalkiness turn off the heat. Grate in your pecorino, a very tiny amount by weight but enough to wrap the rice and bring on that indulgent unctuousness we love in a good risotto
  • 6 Ladle into bowls and dress with your fresh ewe's cheese, a scattering of walnuts, a sprinkling of sumac, a drizzling of fresh olive oil and a final grind of black pepper