On a recent dining adventure, the establishment offered a risotto prepared with wheat berries instead of the traditional Arborio rice. Now, being a purist when it comes to risotto, interest and intrigue set in. Should be tasty enough as a side or even a casserole, but could it be placed in the category of risotto? As expected, the dish lacked some of the creaminess that comes from slowly cooking authentic risotto, but the nutty flavor and hearty texture of the wheat berries was marvelous; an ideal fall supper.
On a nod to Branch Whiskey Bar’s special which featured roasted beets and thinly sliced beef, here is a rendition of a risotto utilizing wheat berries. The same basic risotto techniques are used in the preparation of this dish. The result is a toothsome meal.
Wheat Berry Risotto with Roasted Beets and Cheve
To prepare the beets:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scrub, peel and quarter six medium sized beets. Place on baking sheet, toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper and one teaspoon dried thyme, crushed lightly. Roast for 30 to 45 minutes or until tender.
Ingredients for risotto:
1 Cup Hard Wheat Berries
1 1/2 Quarts Stock, warmed
1/2 Onion Diced
1/2 Cup White Wine
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Cup Cheve (goat cheese)
- Heat stock in a large pot until simmering.
- Add olive oil to pan along with garlic and onions. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes, until vegetables start to wilt.
- Add wheat berries to the pan and cook for about a minute.
- Pour white wine into pan and stir until wine is evaporated.
- Begin adding warm stock ½ cup at a time, stir well, allowing wheat berries to absorb most of the liquid, then add another ½ cup. Repeat this process until the wheat berries soften. It will take 45 to 60 minutes. This risotto does not have to be stirred continuously.
- When the wheat berries are soft, remove from heat, stir in parmesan cheese and taste for salt.
- Gently mix in the roasted beets and top with the goat cheese. Garnish with parsley, chives or sprigs of thyme or marjoram.