This is such a satisfying risotto. The combination of earthy sweet beetroot, fragrant thyme, pungent blue cheese and salted crumbly walnuts is irresistible!
4 medium beetroot, peeled and each cut into 6 wedges
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons runny honey
sea salt and ground pepper
5 sprigs fresh thyme
red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon caster sugar
½ cup walnuts, chopped roughly
1 large red onion, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2¼ cups Arborio rice
½ cup red wine
5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves chopped finely
7–8 cups good quality vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
35 grams butter
100 grams Gorgonzola picante or other crumbly blue cheese
thyme sprigs for garnish
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Line a baking tray with tin foil. Place beetroot wedges in the centre and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. Add the thyme sprigs. Fold tinfoil around the beetroot to make a closed parcel and cook for 55 minutes or until the beetroot can be pierced easily with a knife tip.
Set aside six wedges and blend the remaining beetroot in a food processor with the red wine vinegar. Heat the sugar in a sauté pan until it just starts to turn a pale golden colour. Add the walnuts and a sprinkling of sea salt and toss over heat until the walnuts are coated lightly in light amber caramel sugar. Set aside.
Risotto: Heat the remaining olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan and add the onion. Cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat. Add the garlic, cook for 2 minutes, season with salt and pepper and add the rice. Cook for 3–4 minutes then add the wine and chopped thyme.
Place the stock in a saucepan and heat gently. Once the rice has absorbed most of the wine, add about ⅔ cup of warm stock. Keep stirring, adding warm stock as it becomes absorbed, ensuring the rice never dries out. After 20 minutes add the beetroot purée and cook a further 5 minutes. The rice should be cooked but not mushy. Remove from the heat and stir through the Parmesan and butter.
To serve: Ladle the risotto into bowls. Halve the remaining beetroot wedges and place on top, crumble over Gorgonzola, scatter with walnuts and garnish with a sprig or two of thyme.