There are some vegetables I have made peace with never loving, like eggplant or sweet potatoes. Beets were also part of this group, until very recently. They always seemed a bit too (naturally) sugary for me. Growing up, my mom used to make beets Indian style- sauteed with Indian spices, chili peppers and salt. I just could not get myself to enjoy that and trust me I TRIED but the sweetness just got in the way. Beets have amazing health benefits so I was a little bummed that I couldn’t get myself to love them.
Thankfully I got into a morning smoothie regimen since last year and through that beets made a comeback. They are amazing in smoothies! Which makes sense since they have a little sweetness and go perfectly well with fruits. But there are times when I have too many beets and mostly the kind that have beet greens attached to them. So I thought- what else can I make with them that I won’t hate? Thanks to a leftover box of orzo pasta, I had a brain wave: Why not make a faux risotto that might mask some of the sweetness of the beets?
To my great surprise, it worked! I couldn’t even taste the sweetness! The color rubbed off on the orzo but I assume the beets absorb the flavors of the stock in the time you’re cooking the stock down. I’m also convinced that beet greens are more delicious than all the more commonly loved greens like kale or spinach. They definitely kick this risotto up several notches. I threw carrots into this as well since I had some in my fridge and really you can add any vegetable to this risotto. Think of this as a “clearing out the fridge” friendly recipe.
If you’re a fellow beet-hater, I urge you to try this out!
- 2 cups uncooked whole wheat orzo pasta
- 2 medium size beets, shredded**
- 2 medium size carrots, shredded** (keep about 3 Tbsp of the carrots aside for garnish)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2-3 cups of beet greens, chopped
- 3 cups stock (any kind- chicken, vegetarian etc.)
- 1/3 cup grated/shredded cheese (parmesan is best, I used left over monterey jack)
- 1/2 cup dry wine *optional
- 1/2 cup spinach for garnish *optional
- salt and pepper to taste
- oil for sauteeing
- Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add the chopped onions and saute until translucent.
- Add the orzo and saute for about 2 minutes.
- Increase the heat to high and add the beets, carrots, beet greens, and stock with the optional wine.
- Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook stirring often, for about 10 minutes- until the pasta cooks.
- After the pasta has cooked, taste a little and add salt if necessary and pepper if you like.
- If you find that the risotto feels too thick, add a little water (think risotto consistency). If the consistency is good, turn the heat off.
- Mix in the cheese and optional spinach.
- Let stand for 5 minutes and then serve along with a sprinkle of cheese and the reserved amount of shredded carrots on top (this is just to make it look more colorful!)
- **I used a food processor with a shredder attachment to shred the beets and carrots. If you do not have one, a hand held shredder is fine too.