To prepare the beetroot, pre-heat the oven to 200*C. Place the washed beetroots onto a piece of aluminium foil big enough to fold into a parcel. Add the thyme – keep back 2 or 3 little sprigs for the risotto later. Drizzle with olive oil and the balsamic reduction then season with salt and pepper. Close the parcel, place on a small baking tray and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool a bit until you can handle them. Reserve the juices in the parcel so that you can add them into the hot stock later. Peel and cut the beetroots into tiny cubes – set aside to use in the risotto and reserve some of the plain dark cubes for garnishing each portion of risotto.
To make the risotto, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat in a large shallow saucepan. Add the onions and just the thyme leaves from the sprigs that you reserved and sauté until onion is glazed and translucent – don’t allow it to brown. In another saucepan, place the stock over a low heat and allow it to simmer gently. Add the reserved beetroot juices to the stock.
Add the garlic and the rice to the onions and butter, and stir well so that the rice is well coated. Add all the wine and stir to mix. Allow the wine to evaporate quickly before you start adding the hot stock. Reduce the heat and start adding the stock, one small ladle at a time. Stir and allow it to almost evaporate before adding the next ladle. This all takes a bit of time and requires standing at the hob stirring most of the time. Repeat the ladles of hot stock until the rice is cooked al dente – it must still have a bit of a toothsome bite in the middle but softened on the outside.
Add the beetroot and heat through. Add the lemon zest and juice and stir through. Add the chopped nuts, the crumbled blue cheese and half of the parmesan.
Serve individual portions with the reserved beetroot cubes and the remainder of the parmesan as garnish.
– The Drift farm produces the most phenomenal baby candy-striped beetroot.
– The beetroot can be prepared up to a day in advance