The peonies faded to a pastel apricot and were the size of saucers by the time Thursday rolled around. We love squatters in Aro; our sofa bed in the landing by the stairs has homed many a temporarily homeless friend. Our latest was Lucy and she had a birthday during her stay. A delicious, and slightly special, vegetarian dinner was required. Bubbles as a gift, rosé as an accompaniment, and after the beetroot risotto with walnuts, goat's cheese, baby rocket and roasted asparagus on the side, we indulged in a punnet of strawberries dipped in a block of Whittakers Milk Madagascar chocolate, melted into a luscious sauce with a wee bit of cream.
At the last minute I snaffled up two gorgeous fresh beetroot on my post-work Moore Wilson's run. At home I googled some recipes - and read this one and this one and this one - then made up my own. I thought grating it raw was the easiest and most sensible option, and I came up with it all on my own. Excellent!
Heat some olive oil and a knob of butter in a large fry pan. Add 1 thinly sliced onion (red or white) 2 crushed and chopped garlic cloves, and some chopped fresh thyme. Cook until onions are soft, then add about a cup of arborio rice. Have two cups of chicken or vegetable stock warming in saucepan. Add about a ladleful of sock to the rice mixture and stir through. Add a large grated beetroot. Season with salt and pepper. Continue adding stock, stirring constantly, and waiting until all the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Add a generous splash of white wine. Continue stirring. Your risotto is ready after about 25 minutes, when all the liquid is absorbed.
To serve, put on a plate and crumble over some goat's cheese (I shelled out on the expensive stuff on the aforementioned Moore Wilson's trip) and some lightly toasted walnuts. Serve with baby rocket, and if you are as addicted as I am, some roast asparagus.
You get an earthy depth with the beetroot, which the thyme and garlic sit alongside with just perfectly. The deal breaker though is the contrast with the sharp goats cheese - it's such a winning combination. Add some greens and you have yourself a delicious, impressive and easy vegetarian dinner.