I have this little food and recipe notebook in which I write down ideas I have for dishes. Most of those ideas are for savoury concoctions, and that makes me realize, once again, how this blog is way more savoury than sweet-oriented. I want you guys to know that I really, really wanted to come up with a dessert recipe this week, but then I made this beet risotto and thought it was too good not to share it with you.
Barley is an ingredient I cook with often. I love it in salads and simply on its own as an accompaniment for vegetable stews and curries. I thought it was a good grain to use on a risotto because it holds its shape after being cooked, cooks in less time than brown rice, and has a beautiful nutty flavour.
If you like beets, you’ll certainly love this dish. But if you don’t, then I’m not sure if this is the right thing for you. Thanks to them, the risotto has that distinctive earthy and sweet flavour that I personally love but know many don’t – I actually know very few people who share my enthusiasm for beets. Topped with extra roasted beets and walnuts this is a substantial dinner perfect for rainy winter nights (just don’t freak out if you wake up in the middle of the night to pee and it’s red).
Beetroot & Barley Risotto
7 medium sized / 550 g beets, cut into quarters
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 large / 270 g onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tablespoons water
200 g / 1 cup shelled barley, soaked overnight
750 ml / 3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
185 ml / ¾ cup full fat coconut milk
salt and black pepper to taste
toasted walnuts for serving
Pre-heat the oven to 180c. Line a large tray with parchment paper. Add the quartered beets as well as 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well, so that the beets are all coated with the balsamic and oil mixture. Put another piece of parchment paper on top of the beets and crimp the edges to form a packet. Roast in the oven for about one hour – the beets are cooked when you can easily pierce them with the tip of a knife.
In a large pot over medium heat, add one tablespoon of oil and cook the onion and garlic for 8 to 10 minutes, or until soft. The mixture will dry out, and to keep it from sticking to the pan add 4 tablespoons of water halfway through the cooking time. Next, add the barley and the 3 cups of stock. Cook, uncovered, on a low-medium heat for 15 minutes.
Add 125 grams of the cooked beets and the coconut milk to a blender and puree until smooth (I do not bother peeling the beets at this point, but do that if you prefer). Pour this mixture over the barley , stir well, and cook for additional 5 minutes. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if needed – I added extra salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) and a grind of black pepper. Serve immediately with the remaining roasted beets and plenty of toasted walnuts on top.
As I’ve said before, I don’t plan in advance the recipes I’m going to post here on the blog. I like to be inspired by the seasonal ingredients I buy every week and just create something with them. This week I’ve brought home lots of mushrooms and nettles, so the idea was to post a recipe here that highlighted one of these ingredients (I’m not quite sure if mushrooms and nettles go well together, hence why I didn’t attempt to put both in the same dish – probably a wise decision).
When I cook with mushrooms I like to keep things very simple. I usually just panfry them with lots of garlic and that’s it. However, I kept thinking about a delicious mushroom soup that I’ve made once, following this recipe, and because it’s still incredibly cold around here, I was craving something similar.
My original plan was to use millet in the soup, but I’ve found in the pantry a bag of quinoa 2 days past expiration date (ups) and used it instead. I was lucky enough to find the mushrooms I’ve used in this soup for a very good price, but I don’t want you to spend a fortune on these guys, so feel free to substitute the shiitake and pleurotus for creminis if you like. Also, you can definitely use millet in place of the quinoa, or even brown rice (you’ll just have to adjust the cooking times and probably add a bit more stock than the amount suggested bellow).
Last but not the least: I still have those nettles in the fridge and I’m not sure what to do with them. Have any of you cooked with nettles before? What should I do with them? Suggestion board is open. Thanks in advance! : )
Mushroom & Quinoa Soup
250 g / 1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
25-30 g / 1 big chunk fresh ginger, peeled and minced
6 grams dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup hot water (do not discard the water)
140 g / 1 large portobello mushroom, chopped into medium sized chunks
105 g shiitake mushrooms, coarsely chopped
200 g pleurotus mushrooms, coarsely chopped
150 g / ¾ cup quinoa
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
3 Tablespoons tamari sauce
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large pan over medium heat, add the oil, onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion has softened.
In the meantime, heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat and, once hot, add the quinoa. Toast the quinoa, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until it’s fragrant and only slightly brown in color.
Add the rehydrated porcini followed by the portobello, shiitake and pleurotus mushrooms. Give the mixture a good stir and add the quinoa, followed by 1 cup of the porcini soaking water and 4 cups vegetable stock.
Bring the liquid to a boil and, once boiling, decrease the heat to low-medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked. Add the tamari sauce, stir, and have a taste. If it’s not salty enough to your liking, add salt (I had about ½ teaspoon).
Right before serving, add the lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately garnished with chopped parsley and panfried tofu, if desired.