Cecilia's purple risotto with goats cheese and beetroot
Cooking time: 30 minutes
I just don't think you can beet (eh? eh?!) a risotto when it comes to comfort food. A big, steamy bowl of oozy, delicious carbs - and if you can achieve that with some brain healthy ingredients thrown in, well that's an absolute winner. Thank you so much to writer, mental health campaigner, and author of The Happy Kitchen, Rachel Kelly for sharing this one with us.
Why is this recipe good for my brain?
Beets are a brain sensation. Rich in nitrates, they fight inflammation, help to prevent cognitive decline, and are also good for increasing blood flow to the brain, (they also increase blood flow to other areas - which has gained them a bit of a sexy reputation). The addition of walnuts as a topper to this dish delivers a hefty cocktail of antioxidants, omega 3s, and vitamin E - which all equal great things for your brain.
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.
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 30-40minutes 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 2-3 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 5 minutes before switching the heat off.
Toast the walnuts in a frying pan over a moderate heat for 2-4 minutes, tossing them regularly to prevent them from burning.
For more great gut health foods, take a look at our list here.