Creamy Beet and Basil Risotto

By Alysha Melnyk

~Author Notes~

Risotto is a traditional Northern Italian rice dish. You have likely experienced its deliciousness in Italian restaurants or have made the dish at home for a special meal.

When I crave “comfort foods”, risotto is always a go-to dish for me. I adore the creaminess and cheesiness of the dish. I was inspired to create this beet and basil risotto as my personal summer vegetable twist on the classic Italian recipe.

The creaminess and cheesiness in the risotto are only further amplified by the sweet and earthy tones of the fresh basil and roasted beet additions. This dish is a great way to incorporate the whole beet – leaves and stems included. I hope you all enjoy this new “twist” on a classic recipe. Enjoy!

Serves 4 Ingredients

Approximately 5 Beets, Roasted, Peeled and Cubed (Please see these instructions or use your own roasting methods – I recommend having the beets prepared prior to starting the risotto)

3 Tablespoons Salted Butter

1 Cup Beet Stems, Chopped into Bite Sized Pieces

1/3 Cup Spring Onion, Chopped into Bite Sized Pieces

1 Cup Arborio Rice 

1 Quart Vegetable Broth or Chicken Broth (I used a low sodium vegetable broth)

3 Cups Beet Leaves, Cut into Pieces

1/3 Cup Basil Leaves, Chopped

1/2 Cup Half and Half (You can also substitute whole milk, heavy cream, etc. – it will just adjust the creaminess profile slightly)

1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese, Grated

1/4 Cup Asiago Cheese, Grated

For Topping: Extra Cheese, extra basil, extra spring onion and black pepper.
Directions

  1. First, cook, peel and cube your beets (I recommend doing this earlier in the day or the day before since this can take a bit of time). I used these instructions to cook the beets beforehand: https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-roast-beets-in-the-oven-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-172827
  2. Next, melt the 3 tablespoons of salted butter in a pasta pan or large pan of choice.
  3. Once the butter is melted, add your beet stem pieces and spring onion pieces. Cook the pieces until tender (approximately 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally). 
  4. Next, add 1 cup of your Arborio rice and stir the rice, butter, beet stems and spring onion until coated.
  5. After that, add in 1/2 cup of your broth of choice and stir. Keep an eye on this, stirring occasionally so the rice does not burn, and once the rice has absorbed the broth and the mixture has thickened, lower the heat slightly and add in another 1/2 cup broth.
  6. Repeat this process of broth addition, stirring until absorption, and adding more broth until the entire quart of broth is used. This could take 20 to 30 minutes, so definitely time consuming but I promise the deliciousness will be worth it in the end! 🙂 Just be sure to keep stirring.
  7. Once all the broth is used and the mixture is thickened, stir in your beet leaves and basil leaves.
  8. After this, stir in your half and half and cheeses of choice (I added the half and half for extra creaminess, but you could use a touch of whole milk or heavy cream – whatever you have on hand. The cheese amounts are flexible too – just depends how creamy you want it). 
  9. Once everything is stirred in, I pull the pan off the heat and cover it for around 10 minutes (allowing the cheese to melt/combine further and the milk to absorb).
  10. Before serving, give the risotto one final “stir” and top with cubed beet pieces, extra basil, extra spring onion and extra cheese (whatever is desired).
  11. Enjoy!

Alysha Melnyk is the Founder and Content Creator of The Kitchenologist©, a food blog dedicated to healthy eating and kitchen experiments. Alysha combined her background in biology with her passion for making food delicious, eye-catching, and accessible. When she’s not cooking in the kitchen or dreaming up a recipe, Alysha works full time as an Implementation Specialist at ECRI, an international medical nonprofit located in suburban Philadelphia that is dedicated to improving patient safety worldwide. Alysha finds her many career passions revolve around the power of knowledge and that equipping people with the right tools and resources will help them make better informed decisions.