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Beetroot Risotto, Goat's Cheese, Pickled Golden Beetroot & Candied Walnuts

This recipe is from Eating In by Philip Johnson.


  • Pickled Golden Beetroot:

  • 50ml white wine

  • 80ml (1/3 cup) white wine vinegar

  • 80g caster sugar

  • a pinch of saffron threads

  • 3 baby golden beetroot, peeled

  • Candied Walnuts: (makes 2 cups):

  • 200g (heaped 3/4 cup) caster sugar

  • 200g (2 cups) walnuts

  • vegetable oil, for deep frying

  • table salt

  • Other:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 4 golden shallots, sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 500g (2 1/3 cups) risotto (arborio) rice

  • 500ml (2 cups) vegetable stock, boiling

  • 500ml (2 cups) freshly squeezed beetroot juice

  • 200ml red wine

  • 50g freshly grated parmesan cheese

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 large beetroot, cooked in boiling salted water until tender, cooled, peeled then diced into 1cm pieces

  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • red wine vinegar, to taste

  • 100g (1 cup) candied walnuts

  • 100g goat’s curd

  • ½ cup small watercress sprigs


  • 1.

    To pickle the golden beetroot, put the white wine in a small saucepan and bring the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the wine reduces slightly. Add the vinegar, sugar, saffron and 125ml (½ cup) water, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.

  • 2.

    Meanwhile, use a mandolin or very sharp knife to thinly slice the beetroot. Put the slices in a non-reactive bowl and pour over the pickling liquid. Set aside to cool to room temperature. The beetroot is best pickled the day before use.

  • 3.

    For the candied walnuts, combine the sugar and 200ml water in a heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the walnuts, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer very gently, adjusting the heat as necessary, for 45-55 minutes, or until the liquid reduces and the nuts are glazed. Stir occasionally so the nuts cook evenly. Remove from the heat.

  • 4.

    Heat some vegetable oil in a deep fryer or wok to 165°C (320°F/Gas 2-3). In small batches, use a slotted spoon or spider to scoop the walnuts from the saucepan into the hot oil, allowing any excess syrup to drain off. Fry for 2 minutes, moving them around, until they become a rich golden colour. Remove from the hot oil using a slotted spoon or spider and place on baking or parchment paper; repeat with the remaining nuts. Season the candied walnuts with salt whilst still hot, then cool completely before storing in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks.

  • 5.

    To make the beetroot risotto, heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and gently sweat for 8-10 minutes, or until the shallot is soft and transparent. Add the rice and stir until the rice is well coated with oil. Reduce the heat to low.

  • 6.

    Meanwhile, combine the hot vegetable stock and beetroot juice.

  • 7.

    Add the red wine to the rice and stir briefly. Allow the risotto to cook until the wine is almost completely absorbed by the rice before adding 250ml (1 cup) of the combined vegetable stock and beetroot juice. Allow the risotto to cook until the stock is almost completely absorbed by the rice before adding another 250ml (1 cup) of stock. Continue to gradually add stock, stirring frequently, until the rice is almost cooked.

  • 8.

    Fold in the parmesan, butter and diced beetroot. Season to taste with sea salt, black pepper and a little red wine vinegar.

  • 9.

    To serve, divide the risotto among serving bowls. Garnish with the pickled golden beetroot, candied walnuts, teaspoons of goat’s curd and the watercress sprigs. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and finish with a grind of black pepper.

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