This rooty risotto recipe is perfect for a healthy spring day lunch, picnic or light dinner. Just add the sun…
Cecilia’s Purple Risotto
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 threes.
300g cooked beetroot (raw or pre-cooked)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200g risotto (or brown) rice
600ml vegetable stock
60g soft goat’s cheese
100g walnuts, chopped
- 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 to 40 minutes depending on their size.
- Leave the beetroot to cool and then peel and dice them. If you are using pre-cooked beetroot, simply dice them into small chunks.
- 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 two to three minutes. The grains should go slightly translucent.
- 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.
- 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 five minutes before switching the heat off.
- Toast the walnuts in a frying pan over a moderate heat for two to four minutes, tossing them regularly to prevent them from burning.
- Serve with a scattering of chopped toasted walnuts, the remaining goat’s cheese and a crisp green salad.
Q&A with Rachel Kelly, The Happy Kitchen
Let food be thy medicine. It is something to be enjoyed and celebrated, and that can heal and nourish us.
If we were to change one thing in our diets…
Switch to ‘real’ foods that our grandmothers would recognise.
Most memorable meal?
The first time I cooked the sesame seared tuna with crunchy Asian slaw from our cookbook: it’s a dish my co-author, nutritional therapist Alice Mackintosh, and I had spent a while devising: it’s full of ingredients to support your hormones. I couldn’t believe that a novice cook like me could make something that tasted as good as something in a restaurant… and that the globetrotting flavours were so different from the meat and two veg kind of food I was brought up on.
Least favourite ingredient?
I’m not very good with turkey. I find it a useful ingredient if I’m having a bout of insomnia, as it’s rich in tryptophan which helps, is make the sleep hormone melatonin, but it’s difficult to know when for example turkey mince is cooked. Unlike beef mince it doesn’t change colour.
Most used appliance?
My Magimix. I use it for chopping vegetables, pulverising nuts, and making soups and green smoothies.
What are you cooking this month?
Asparagus is so easy: you can steam it in minutes, serve it with toasted almonds (for some crunch and calming magnesium) or a yoghurt garlic sauce instead of hollandaise (the yoghurt contains probiotics for healthy gut bacteria which can help with my anxiety). Meanwhile, I always look forward to homegrown soft fruit and the first strawberries… we have a strawberry sorbet recipe and they are a good source of antioxidants.
Last meal you ate out?
Was with my 13-year-old daughter Charlotte. We went to an Asian restaurant at her request and we had miso soup, vegetable pad Thai noodles and edamame beans: these contain phytoestrogens or dietary oestrogen.
What’s in your fridge?
Milk, yoghurt, fresh anchovies for omega threes, some of our homemade sun-dried tomato Hummus, tahini, horseradish sauce, peanut butter, almond butter, some leftover brandy butter from Christmas (I need to throw it out!) coconut water, almond milk, tomato passata, half-opened jar of sun-dried tomatoes, packet of smoked salmon, packet of butter, tube of wasabi, tube of harissa paste, and some organic cocoa butter.
Dark chocolate. But I try not to feel guilty and rather enjoy it in moderation and with mindfulness – and remind myself that it contains magnesium.
Who would you like to cook for?
I like cooking for those who are finding life a little difficult and come to my Good Mood Food workshops, which I run for Depression Alliance and other charities as well as for companies. I make recipes from The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food. Each of our seven chapters address a different symptom of low mood and anxiety, and there is always a recipe for when you’re feeling fragile and don’t feel up to much cooking. I would choose one of those – our easy crab and artichoke dip from is one I often cook.
Quick weeknight supper?
Omega three kedgeree. It’s scrummy, you can use lots of store cupboard ingredients like tinned fish – salmon, mackerel or tuna – and you can have any leftovers for breakfast.
Rachel Kelly is author, with Alice Mackintosh, of The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food, published by Short Books £14.99