Today's Recipe of the Day is a warm, rich risotto made with red beets and beet greens, a resourceful and healthy way to enjoy comfort food. Beets are extraordinarily healthy and help protect your heart, eyes, brain, and help reduce inflammation in your body, yet they are often overlooked when it comes to cooking because the vegetable is intimidating to many. With the help of this recipe, beets will become your new favorite ingredient.

This risotto recipe is created by food journalist and best-selling author Mark Bittman who wrote VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good and just released his latest book entitled Animal, Vegetable Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal. "When more people eat more plant-based, more of the time, then that's the bigger win for humanity and the planet than trying to convince people to eat strictly vegan all the time," Bittman told The Beet.

Bittman has decades of culinary experience and knows how to make delicious, healthy meals for everyone. Serve this risotto recipe this weekend for your dinner guests or practice your chef skills and experiment with new ingredients like the stems on the beets, which have rich, earthy flavors and add a nice texture to the dish. Either way, this entrée is perfect for any occasion, and risotto leftovers the next day are arguably better.

If you want more content and recipes from Mark Bittman, sign up for the Bittman Project.

Time: About 1 hour

Barley Risotto with Beets and Greens

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole-grain (“hulled”) barley
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 to 5 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or water
  • 12 ounces beets, peeled and grated
  • 2 cups arugula, or chopped beet greens if they came with the beets

Instructions

  1. Put the barley in a large dry skillet over medium heat. Cook, shaking the pan often, until the barley is golden and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Put the walnuts in the skillet and repeat the process to toast them the same way. Warm the stock or water in a medium saucepan.
  2. Put the olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the barley and cook, stirring often, until it is glossy and coated with oil, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add the white wine. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid bubbles away.
  3. Use a ladle to add the warm stock, 1 cup or so at a time, stirring after each addition. When the stock has just about evaporated, add another ladleful. The mixture should be neither soupy nor dry. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles and stir frequently.
  4. After 20 minutes, add the beets. Continue cooking the same way, tasting the grains regularly—you want it to be tender but still with a tiny bit of crunch—it could take as long as 40 minutes to reach this stage, depending on the barley. When the barley is as tender as you’d like, add the arugula or beet greens a handful at a time, stirring until each addition is wilted. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with the walnuts, and serve hot.