Beet and Pancetta Risotto with Goat Cheese and Herb Salad

Beet and Pancetta Risotto with Goat Cheese and Herb Salad

The creamy, perfection of classic risotto is embellished with golden and Chioggia (striped) beets, goat cheese and a cap of fresh herb salad.

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Ingredients
  • 1 lb (500 g) pancetta, diced
  • 3 cups (750 mL) water
  • 2 cups (500 mL) finely diced onion
  • 4 cups (1 L) U.S. Arborio rice, or medium grain rice
  • 1 cup (250 mL) white wine
  • 16 cups (4 L) chicken broth, heated
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  • 9 *golden and Chioggia beets, roasted, peeled and quartered
  • 2 juice and finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  •  kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz (250 g) goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup (250 mL) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Fresh Herb Salad

  • 2 peeled shallot, minced
  • 2 lemons, grated zest and juice
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  •  kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz (125 g) chervil, stems removed
  • 4 oz (125 g) flat-leaf parsley, stems removed
  • 4 oz (125 g) basil leaves
  • 2 oz (60 g) tarragon leaves
  • 2 oz (60 g) chives, quartered
Directions
  1. In a large, deep pan over medium heat add pancetta and cook until the bottom of pan is glazed with fat, approximately 5 minutes. Add the water in 3 stages, a cup at a time, cooking until the water has evaporated before adding the next portion. Once the pancetta is brown and crispy, remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and reserve for later use.
  2. Add the onion to the rendered fat and cook over medium heat until translucent, but not brown, approximately 5 minutes. Add rice and stir until coated with oil and cook until rice turns translucent. Increase heat to high and stir in wine. The wine will bubble violently and evaporate almost immediately.
  3. Add heated broth to pan, enough to cover the rice, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until the broth is absorbed, add more broth to cover the rice and keep cooking in the same way until the rice is cooked and slightly chewy in the center; use more broth if needed. The whole process should take about 20 minutes. Remove from heat when done.
  4. In a medium sized sauté pan, over medium heat, add olive oil and sauté the roasted beets (*see tip below) until heated through, approximately 5 minutes, then set aside for later use. If using two different colours of beets, sauté each colour separately to prevent colours from bleeding.
  5. Add half of the goat cheese and Parmigiano to the risotto. Fold in beets, lemon zest, pancetta, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh Herb Salad

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine chervil, parsley, basil, tarragon and chives and place in the refrigerator topped with a damp cloth until needed.
  2. For the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, combine shallots, lemon juice, lemon zest and vinegar; whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Dress the herbs with vinaigrette just before serving.
  3. Serve 1 cup (250 mL) risotto topped with 1/4 cup (50 mL) herb salad and garnish with remaining goat cheese.

For roasting beets: Preheat oven to 400° F (200°C). Place the beets in a roasting or baking dish in one layer. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Roast until fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Peel while the beets are still warm as the skins peel easily. Wear gloves to prevent staining hands.