A few weeks ago, as the 6 o’clock hour approached I faced the familiar issue of not having any semblance of a dinner plan. I began mentally going through the items in our refrigerator – trying to find inspiration from a potential mishmash of leftovers or vegetables yet to be used. I suddenly remembered a bunch of deep red beets, carefully washed and stemmed after a summer farmer’s market visit and yet to be consumed.
While there are endless possibilities of how I could have prepared the ruby root vegetables for our dinner, an overwhelming desire for something creamy and comforting snuck into my plans for the beets. Risotto. Best of all, everything I needed to create this dish was already stocked in our tiny kitchen and make-shift pantry. No after-work grocery store trip required.
It seems like such a silly decision now – planning to make red beet risotto for dinner while comfortably sitting in my air-conditioned office. The summer heat and fact that our kitchen is never actually cooled by the air conditioning did not enter into my thought process. It wasn’t until after I had slowly melted the butter, sautéed the onions and drenched the translucent onion strands in white wine when I realized I had 25 minutes of continual stirring staring right in my face. Continually stirring with no air flow on a ninety degree night in a pre-war apartment where the summer humidity sits heavy in the old, cement walls.
But still – despite the heat and sweating and cursing my boneheaded oversight – this is one of my new favorite recipes. The beets not only lend a beautiful red hue, but also offer a lighter, summery taste to an otherwise heavy dish.