02/27/2012 11:13 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Beet it: Beet Risotto Nobody Wanted

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I can't resist buying beets at the farmers market. And I have nothing but the best intentions for them. I'll roast them! Pickle them! Put them in a salad! Oh the delicious nutrition! Plus we'll all pee red! W00t!

Alas, too often I won't get around to roasting my beets, and when I finally do surface from my messy to-do list, I'll find my glorious beets all shriveled and leathery. The greens I'd meant to saute, brown and beyond saving.

This week I wasn't going to let that happen. As soon as I got them home I washed them, wrapped them in tinfoil and roasted them at 350 for an hour. (Smaller beets will take less time. When a knife goes thru them easily, they're done.)

But then I got hugely distracted and let them sit on the counter for another day. So it was going to be a double tragedy -- not only wasted beets, but wasted roasted beets. Bad Julie.

I snapped out of it and found my motivation. I was gonna make me some beet risotto with sauteed beet greens, à la a recipe in the New York Times.

Nobody was as enthused as I was.

The Drama Teen called me that afternoon from a friend's house. "What's for dinner tonight?"

"Beet risotto."

A pause. Then, "Please don't."

The boy didn't respond well, either. "What's risotto?" he asked. "Can you get me a burrito instead?"

Even as I stood over my stove stirring the stuff my neighbor inquired skeptically, "Why are you going through the trouble? Your kids aren't gonna eat that, you know."

Probably right. But I'm doing what I want these days. And I was making beet risotto, damnit.

Besides, we were out of all acceptable breakfast cereals. The kids would eat this or go hungry.

Here's how I did it, riffing off a recipe from Cooking with Amy: (I decided against trying it with the greens this time.)

2 decent-sized beets, roasted and chopped into little chunks
chopped beets

Yes, it will be messy.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cups white wine
2-3 cups of veggie stock (Good old TJ's works great... but you don't need the whole package; you can also use chicken stock.)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Black pepper to taste

In a saucepan, heat up the veggie stock to a little simmer. Don't let it boil. Season expertly.

In another pan, saute the onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add the risotto and swirl it around, coating it with oil and onions, and let it toast a bit. About 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the wine (go ahead and have a little swig yourself while you're at it). Stir. When the wine cooks off, add the chopped beets.

Stir. It turns pink! You're having fun now, boy!

Now add the heated stock, about half a cup at a time (I just did it ladle by ladle), stirring until it's fully absorbed, then add another ladle-full. Keep stirring. Amy says it takes almost exactly 18 minutes to make risotto, so I set my timer. And danged is she wasn't right.

Keep stirring. Sip a little more wine for fortification.

When the risotto is neither mushy nor chewy, add one more splash of stock and cover for just a minute. It shouldn't be too wet or too dry. After a minute or so, add the Parmesan cheese and stir in. Taste for seasoning and adjust thusly.

Guess what?

Everybody eats pink stuff.