Last year we didn’t do much about Valentine’s Day because we’d just gotten Molly the Cat and felt an urgency to be home with our cute little ball of fur. I don’t think we’ve ever done much about Valentine’s Day; the sentiment is nice but I feel sort of silly about it. It’s just the two of us all the time, you know?
We’ll go out later this week, when the restaurants are quiet and we’re not surrounded by moon-eyed couples sitting on the same side of the booth, which makes me irrationally angry, which is the opposite of how you’re supposed to feel on February 14. Seriously – can’t they hear each other chew when they sit like that, and doesn’t that just shoot the romance right in the foot?
But I do like a good theme. So tonight, even if we weren’t celebrating, we did recognize the day, and Meatless Monday, with a plate of lusty, blood-red risotto. It was both virtuous and decadent, with its vegetable stock and beets and butter and Manchego cheese, and it came together in the 30 minutes Nick spent tidying the kitchen. Add a little red wine on the side, and there’s no better way I can think of to spend a Monday Valentine’s Day.
Beet risotto with Manchego
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. butter, divided
- 1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 medium beet, peeled and finely shredded
- 3 to 4 cups warm vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup shredded Manchego cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Handful chopped fresh parsley
Heat stock until boiling, then reduce heat and maintain a gentle simmer.
In a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, heat oil and melt the first tablespoon of butter with the red chili flakes. Add onions and garlic, and cook for two to three minutes, until onions are translucent. Add paprika and rice to pan, stirring for about a minute, or until rice grains turn opaque. Add the wine.
Add one cup of the warm vegetable stock, stirring frequently until liquid is mostly absorbed. Repeat with an additional cup of stock, and then repeat again with one to two more cups as needed. Test your rice for tenderness – if it is al denté, great. If it isn’t, just pour in a little bit more stock, as needed, and let it absorb into the rice. I almost always need the full four cups of stock.
When rice is ready, stir in butter and Manchego cheese. Taste, and adjust seasonings quickly, as needed. Stir in parsley, and serve hot, with additional Parmesan cheese and a light sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley.
And Happy Valentine’s Day. However you did or did not celebrate it, I hope you had a lovely evening and ate something you really liked, in the company of someone you really like, whether it was you alone or with someone else.