This recipe was given to us by Cecilia, a friend and an accomplished cook, who helps develop healthy recipes for mothers with small children. You can make it with brown rice, but it takes a little longer, and the risotto won’t be quite as creamy. If you are cooking the beetroot from raw, use gloves when peeling it. Beetroot can boost blood flow to the brain. The walnuts provide omega-3s.
1. If you are using fresh beetroot, wash and trim them, but do not peel them. Place them in a large saucepan and completely cover with water. Bring the water to the boil then reduce the heat, put the lid on and simmer until they are just tender. This should take around 30 - 40 minutes depending on their size.
2. Leave the beetroot to cool and then peel and dice them. If you are using pre-cooked beetroot, simply dice them into small chunks.
3. Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic until they have softened, then stir in the rice and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. The grains should go slightly translucent.
4. Add a splash of water to the pan and stir, then turn the heat down and add the hot stock, ladle by ladle, stirring the rice regularly to ensure it doesn’t stick – a lovely soothing process I find. This is what releases the starch and gives the risotto its creamy consistency.
5. When the stock is almost used up and the rice is cooked – this should take 15-20 minutes – stir the diced beetroot and half the goat’s cheese into it. Leave it for about 5 minutes before switching the heat off.
6. Toast the walnuts in a frying pan over a moderate heat for 2-4 minutes, tossing them regularly to prevent them from burning.
7. Serve the risotto with a scattering of chopped toasted walnuts, the remaining goat’s cheese and a crisp green salad.
Copyright Rachel Kelly 2016
The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food by Rachel Kelly and Alice Mackintosh is published by Short Books, £14.99