I love the colour of this dish. It can’t help but put a smile on your face. Such a bright red-pink colour from the fresh beetroots and it’s something that will also make your gut microbiota smile too…. if they had faces!
Beetroots are naturally high in nitrates, something that has been found to help reduce blood pressure, improve blood flow and possibly have an effect on athletic performance. How? Nitrates are converted to nitric oxide in the body, which has an effect on our blood vessels, dilating them and allowing greater delivery of oxygenated blood to our muscles when consumed prior to exercise.
A 2013 review of UK and Australian studies concluded that the nitrates in the beetroot (usually consumed as beetroot juice) can help improve endurance as measured by time to exhaustion. There are also benefits to gym-goers too as a separate study, conducted in 2016, found that beetroot juice improved performance in resistance training. Those who consumed a 70ml shot of beetroot juice (400mg nitrate) prior to training were able to complete more reps to failure compared with those taking a placebo control.
If you don’t have fresh beetroot you can use pre-cooked beetroots, but the colour will be slightly faded due to the high temperatures used to vacuum pack and store them. Simply skip boiling the beetroot, blending directly into the hot stock, and start the risotto straight away. Another alternative would be to buy beetroot juice, however, the fibre will be removed from this, so I would use this if it is your only option available. If you don’t have the leaves still attached to the beetroot, try using spinach, rainbow chard, or kale as an alternative.
Serves 4 as a main course
- 350g peeled beetroot, cubed
- 10g stock powder
- 2 onions, finely diced
- 30ml extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 300g risotto rice
- 150ml white wine
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 60g parmesan, grated
- 150g beetroot leaves, roughly chopped
- 60g goats cheese
- Place the beetroot and stock powder into a large pan and add 400ml boiling water. Cook for 10 minutes to soften the beetroot and blend till smooth. Return to the heat and keep ward without boiling.
- Meanwhile, sweat the onions in the oil till soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the rice, coating all the grains in the oil and gently toast before adding the white wine. Stir continuously.
- Once the wine has been absorbed by the rice, add a ladle of beetroot stock. Keep stirring and adding stock till all the stock has been used up. If you need to use more liquid, add boiling water.
- When the rice is almost cooked to al dente, add the beetroot leaves and allow to wilt.
- Take off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese.
- Plate up and crumble the goat cheese over the top.
Per serving: 488kcal/ 11.0g fat/ 6.2g saturated fat/ 72.0g carbohydrates/ 5.0g fibre/ 17.4g protein