Mike and I recently collected the last of our beets and leeks from the garden. We typically use beets in salads, but I wanted to try something unexpected with them this year. Last month, I made a Spicy Beet and Apple Chutney and recently, Mike whipped up this Roasted Beet and Leek Risotto making minor twists to his traditional risotto recipe. Grab the recipe below along with some photography tips from my photo shoot.
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Photography Tips for Roasted Beet & Leek Risotto
Get A Good Lens
A lot of DSLR’s will come with a kit lens. There is nothing wrong with using the kit lens. However, another fun lens to think about is the 50mm 1.8 – also known as the nifty fifty. This is an incredibly popular lens in the food photography world because it’s a fixed focal length making it incredibly versatile for different angles of shooting. It’s also under $200, which is a steal for a good lens.
Shoot One Ingredient
A lot of food photographers think they need to a fully plated recipe to practice shooting, but this isn’t true. Get one ingredient and just start taking pictures of it. Don’t worry about the recipe. Don’t worry about the plating. How can you highlight that ingredient in a way that is unexpected and beautiful? Before I start a recipe shoot, I always like to focus on the ingredients first to see if it sparks any inspiration. The raw beets above is an example of this type of exploration.
Read More About: Food Photography Behind the Scenes
Recipe Notes for Roasted Beet & Leek Risotto
Recipe Tip 1: Roast the Beets
Roasting the beets really enhances the flavors and gets them nice and tender for cooking. You simply wash them, trim off the leaves, wrap them in tin foil and roast them for 35-45 minutes in a 400 degree oven. You can use a baking pan to prevent any juices from getting all over your oven.
Recipe Tip 2: Use Goat Cheese Instead of Parmesan
We love the flavor of goat cheese with beets in salads, so Mike took the same approach with the risotto. Instead of using parmesan, he used goat cheese. And, wow… it was super melty and delicious and brightened the earthy flavor of the beets.
Recipe Tip 3: Use Leeks instead of White Onions
We used our garden leeks instead of a regular white onion in this recipe. It was a really tasty substitute. It was also fun to be able to use two ingredients right from our garden. It kinda makes the recipe extra special when you can use ingredients from your garden, don’t you agree?
Recipe Tip 4: Enjoy the Leftovers
This recipe makes a lot, so you will definitely have leftovers. And, if you think this risotto tastes good right off the stove, you should try it the next day after the flavors are even more settled.
Roasted Beet & Leek Risotto
- 3 medium beets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 medium leek, cleaned, halved and sliced
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the oven to 375° F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- Rinse the beets and trim off any leafy tops. Wrap completely in aluminum foil and place in the oven.
- Roast until tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel using a paring knife or by pushing the skin with your fingers. Dice the beets into 1/2” to 1” pieces and set aside in a bowl.
- Bring broth to a low simmer on the stove top.
- In a heavy medium saucepan, heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.
- Add leek with a dash of salt, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add rice; stir to coat.
- Add wine; cook, stirring often to coat the rice, until almost completely absorbed, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the diced beets and stir until incorporated into the rice.
- Add 1/2 cup simmering broth and stir until almost all is absorbed.
- Add remaining 3-4 cups broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding more, about 25-30 minutes total.
- When the rice is tender but still firm, turn off the heat and immediately add 1 tablespoon butter, goat cheese and parsley, stirring vigorously to combine with the rice.
- Taste for seasoning and add salt & pepper if needed. Serve immediately.
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All images ©Regan Baroni 2017.