With Valentine’s Day tomorrow I thought it only appropriate to give you a bright red recipe in honor of the holiday. And, since you’ve probably been inundated with red velvet and chocolate (ahem, like Friday’s Chocolate Covered Strawberries), I figured I should provide a savory, somewhat healthy counterpoint. Beets are nutritional superstars, boasting high levels of folate, maganese, fiber, vitamin C, betaine, and more. And they taste great. Here they add vibrant color and sweet, earthy flavor to barley risotto – a slightly healthier alternative to traditional arborio rice. Although it takes a little longer than steaming, my favorite way to prepare beets is to roast them as I think it brings out the most flavor. I’m sure you can purchase cooked beets to speed up this risotto, but the roasting time is entirely hands off. The barley gives the dish a pleasantly chewy texture, but you could use half or all arborio rice instead.
The inspiration for this recipe came from quite a few sources. I originally pinned Love and Olive Oil’s gorgeous Roasted Beet Risotto, which she got from Gourmet Live. And Drizzle and Dip’s Beetroot and Barley Risotto gave me the confidence to go ahead and make it with barley instead of arborio rice (I’d already made a Saffron and Butternut Squash Risotto with half and half to great success). In the end I made quite a few adjustments, including using all vegetable broth (instead of water and chicken broth) to make it totally vegetarian. The barley and beets make this a super filling one bowl meal that can easily serve a crowd.
For more Valentine’s Day inspiration, I hope you’ll check out my V-Day blog hop from Friday. I was blown away by all the great recipes that people linked up! So much so that I started a whole board on Pinterest just to highlight the recipes. You can check it out here! Happy Valentine’s Day!
- 3 medium beets, stems removed
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups pearl barley
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Tightly wrap beets in foil and roast on a baking sheet until very tender, about 90 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, about 20 minutes.
- When beets are cool enough to handle, peel them, discarding stems and root ends, then cut into ½-inch cubes.
- Bring the broth to a simmer. Keep at a low simmer, covered (it's important that the broth is hot when making risotto).
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large pan or pot over medium heat.
- Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not burnt, about 5 minutes.
- Add the barley and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.
- Add the wine and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 1 minute.
- Stir in ½ cup broth and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth, about ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until barley is just tender and creamy-looking, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Stir in the beets and season with salt, and pepper (yes, it will turn hot pink!) and cook, stirring, until heated through.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, then the cheese. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed, and serve.