Beet Risotto with Lemon-Marinated Tofu

Yet another beetroot recipe! This risotto is most delicious and simple to make, although the cooking time was a little long for an improvised lunch dish. Beets are in season so they’re especially nice and sweet this time of year, and there’s double parsley power in there as well: in the form of a root and a bunch of flat leaves. The beets combine wonderfully with the tanginess of the lemon-marinated tofu, and what I most like is how each ingredient shines through in this simple risotto.

Brown rice takes a long time to cook, but it results in a much more satisfying dish than white arborio rice commonly used for risotto. Brown rice isn’t as starchy as arborio rice at first, but it will get creamy after about an hour’s cooking. I’ve heard about brown arborio rice as well, but I don’t think it’s available in Helsinki. So, I didn’t feel like a heretic when I poured most of the cooking broth in the pan right at the beginning and covered the pan – I just let the brown rice reach the starchy stage this way, and once it was almost done, I started stirring in order to produce a nice and creamy risotto.

My Risotto Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  • 2 and 1/2 dl short grain brown rice (soaked for 2 hours)
  • 2 medium beets, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small parsley root, scrubbed and chopped
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 dl flat leaf parsley (lightly packed), chopped

The Cooking Broth:

  • 5 dl mild vegetable stock
  • 1/2 dl mirin (or white wine)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • (additional water/stock to add later)

The Lemony Tofu:

  • 200 g firm tofu
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

First, I placed the rice in a small bowl and covered it with water, and let it soak for about 2 hours. Then I mashed the tofu with a fork and combined it with the lemon juice, garlic, sugar and salt. I placed it in the fridge to marinate while I was cooking the risotto.

Then I made the cooking broth by combining the hot veggie stock with mirin and soy sauce.

I heated the olive oil in a frying pan and fried the spring onions until soft, then added the root parsley and the beet cubes and fried for a few more minutes. I rinseed the rice and fried it for a few minutes as well, and then started adding the liquid to the pan.

Pretty soon I realized that I’d have to hang around the stove for a very long time if I was to make the risotto correctly, and it was lunch time after all. So I decided to make things easier and added all the broth in the pan at once, lowered the heat to a light simmer, covered the pan, and set the kitchen alarm to 30 minutes.

After the first half an hour had elapsed I checked the risotto every now and then, stirring each time, until it started to thicken. I needed to add some more water toward the end of the cooking, maybe 3-4 dl altogether – it all depends on how runny you want your risotto. During the last 15 minutes I started stirring the risotto continuously while adding a little bit of liquid to get the consistency I wanted, and it was ready after about an hour and a half of total cooking time.

When the rice was soft and creamy, I stirred in about two thirds of the lemony tofu and the chopped parsley, and saved the rest for garnishing purposes. I also crackled some black pepper over my lunch portion.

Here’s my scrubbed parsley root, alongside some of its leaves.

We had the leftovers for lunch on the next day, and the flavors had blended a little more than I’d have liked. So in case of leftovers I recommend storing the lemony tofu and the risotto in separate containers, and only combining them right before serving!