Feta and beetroot make a wonderful combination, especially if you add dill to accompany the earthy tones of the beetroot and the salty feta. This dish can also be made using goats cheese but use the best feta or goats cheese you can source as it’s the key ingredient to this dish. Aran Islands goat type feta is what I use as we are very fortunate to have such a great local product in Galway. Traditionally made from sheep’s milk, the EU has now stated that goats cheese cannot be called feta. I’m using dried dill as it’s a perfectly acceptable substitute to fresh, and is even preferred in some Middle Eastern dishes. It has a distinctive taste that works like magic in this risotto. Optional chopped walnuts add some texture and a good drizzle of oil olive to finish works a treat. Serves 4-6.
500g fresh beetroot
2 tbsps of olive oil
1 onion – finely diced
1 clove of garlic – crushed
250g of arborio or carnoli rice
187ml of white wine
800-1000ml of vegetable or chicken stock
150g of feta – crumbled
100g of feta – crumbled
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp dried dill
2 tbsps walnuts – chopped and toasted (optional)
Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C. Peel and trim the beetroots (use kitchen gloves if you don’t want your hands to get stained) and cut into large wedges. Place in a large baking tray and toss with 1 tbsp of olive oil, season, then cook for approx. 1 hr until the beets are soft, checking occasionally to see they are not over cooked. In a pan gently toast the walnuts for 1-2 mins, then set aside. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive in the same pan over a medium heat. Tip in the onion and garlic, then cook for 3-5 mins until translucent. Stir in the rice until well coated with the oil. Add the white wine, then let the mixture bubble away for approx. 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Add some of the stock and stir. Add more stock and keep stirring occasionally for 20-30 mins over a medium heat until the rice is soft. Remove the beetroots from the oven. Blend to make a course purée and fold through risotto. Stir 150g of the feta crumbled through also with 1 tbsp of dill. Serve with the remaining crumbled feta and chopped walnuts scattered on top. Drizzle over the olive oil and extra dill as desired.