Crispy Beet Risotto Cakes

My husband and I were dining with friends in Colorado recently, at a restaurant called Justice Snow’s in Aspen. It was quite bustling and busy, which means that for me, it was loud and everyone had to yell to be heard.

I was very excited about the menu, however, and without hesitation I ordered trout. Our friend ordered the roasted chicken served with crispy beet risotto, english peas, charred turnips, carrots, spiced yogurt, and ver jus.

While enjoying our cocktails, we talked at length about how the beets were prepared “crispy” in the risotto, but all of our profound thoughts were put to rest when he got his meal. The beet risotto was made crispy by frying it like a cake. Fortunately I got to taste it, and I knew then I wanted to make it at home.

It was especially tempting to recreate because I’ve never used beets in a risotto, and I thought I’d used about all vegetables, from carrots to pumpkin to zucchini and tomato. It’s probably because my husband doesn’t eat beets, and he’s the big risotto eater in our family.

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So here’s what I did. If you need a more complete risotto tutorial, check our my mushroom risotto. It’s similar to this one because it uses bits of things as well as special liquid – in this case – beet juice.

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Crispy Beet Risotto Cakes

Whole beets from a can, about 5-6 small
Reserved beet juice, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely choppped
1 1/4 cup risotto rice, like arborio or carnaroli
White or red wine, about 1/3 cup
Chicken Broth, about 1 cup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
Salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste
Olive oil, for frying

Drain the whole beets and save the juice.

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Then finely chop the beets into bits and set aside.

Begin the risotto by heating the olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for a few minutes, then add the rice.

Stir well until all of the rice grains are coated with oil. Add the wine and stir until the wine is absorbed. Adjust the heat so there’s simmmring but no burning. Then gradually add 1/4 cup or so of chicken broth and stir until it’s absorbed, and repeat with the remaining broth.

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At this point, add amount of beet juice that suits you; I used about 1/4 cup.

After a few minutes, add the beet bits.

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Continue to stir gently. Once just about all of the liquid is absorbed, add the cream and cheese. Stir to combine, then set the risotto to cool slightly.

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The cakes can be made free-form, but I used a 3 1/2″ ring. Smaller cakes would be really pretty for a dinner party, because they could be re-heated.

Heat a little olive oil (or butter) to a flat skillet. Add some risotto to fill the ring and cook over fairly high heat to get the risotto crispy.

Gently turn over the risotto cake and brown/crisp the other side. This was much more difficult than I anticipated. Although I used a small amount of cheese in this risotto, it was probably still too much and created some sticking in the skillet.

I served the risotto cake with a filet of salmon and roasted Brussels sprouts, just for the spectacular colors!

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Just for fun I added a little Mexican crema to the risotto cake, and sprinkled some chopped chives on top.

In spite of my problems cooking the cakes, they cut into bite-sized pieces nicely, and were delicious.

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If you don’t want to bother making the cakes, I can honestly state that this is one of the best risottos I’ve ever made! And it’s not overwhelmingly beety.

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note: In my memory of our friend’s crispy beet risotto, I think the risotto “cake” was white, with bits of beets. What the chef probably did was omit the beet juice, and add the beet bits at the very last minute before crisping the cakes. Personally, I don’t mind the bright magenta color, and the beet juice probably added more flavor. But if you don’t want hot fuschia risotto cakes, do leave out the beet juice and use some more broth instead.

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By Published On: October 28th, 201658 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

58 Comments

  1. Nadia October 28, 2016 at 7:32 AM - Reply

    Interesting take on risotto. Funny how when I glanced quickly at the picture in my phone, I thought it was boeuf tartare.

  2. Jill Barth October 28, 2016 at 7:42 AM - Reply

    I saw “crispy” and was intrigued as well. How fun! Beets are so beautiful & flavorful. Thanks for sharing!

    • chef mimi October 28, 2016 at 7:43 AM - Reply

      The restaurant could have called it a risotto cake with beets…

  3. A Cookbook Collection October 28, 2016 at 8:31 AM - Reply

    Crispy risotto – that sounds like me kind of meal! It looks beautiful Mimi.

  4. Travel Gourmet October 28, 2016 at 9:56 AM - Reply

    What a great recipe. I love beetroot so I’m sure these tasted wonderful but I love the twist of making the risotto into cakes with a crispy edge like this, especially to serve as a side dish.

    • chef mimi October 28, 2016 at 10:10 AM - Reply

      I had to make sure to not crisp too much and made the rice hard, so I fiddled with the heat a bit, but they’re fun. The risotto itself was really good too.

  5. Elaine @ foodbod October 28, 2016 at 10:49 AM - Reply

    It looks great, I’d eat it!!

  6. Kiki October 28, 2016 at 10:56 AM - Reply

    Beet risotto has been on my “want to make” list for a long time. However, there’s so much else on this list that it’s always taken a back seat. I almost bought a bunch of mixed beets at the market earlier today, so maybe I’ll buy some next week and move the beet risotto way up on my list…

    • chef mimi October 28, 2016 at 12:07 PM - Reply

      I know there’s no comparison to fresh, but I use a lot of canned beets when i need to, and they’re good. they definitely worked in this recipe, plus you get the juice!

  7. Bam's Kitchen October 28, 2016 at 11:15 AM - Reply

    Love the beautiful color of the risotto. Brilliant recipe. I love the whole meal with your salmon, veggies. Your family is so lucky! I bet this tastes amazing and really adds something to the risotto and perfect for the holidays with that bold bright color. Wishing you a super weekend!

  8. emmabarrett1508 October 28, 2016 at 12:20 PM - Reply

    I love risotto and my husband loves beetroot. I am going to make this recipe this weekend to make us both happy. Alice may even eat a small portion. Happy Halloween and thank you for sharing another great recipe Mimi! xx

    • chef mimi October 28, 2016 at 12:34 PM - Reply

      Thank you Emma! Actually my grand daughter had some! I think she like the cheesiness of the risotto!

      • emmabarrett1508 November 1, 2016 at 5:23 AM

        Thanks for the tip Mimi. Ill try the recipe with Alice. xx

  9. Our Growing Paynes October 28, 2016 at 1:07 PM - Reply

    This would definitely grab my husband’s interest. He loves beets.

    • chef mimi November 3, 2016 at 9:59 AM - Reply

      I was surprised how un-beety the risotto was! Even with the beet juice!

      • Our Growing Paynes November 7, 2016 at 8:23 AM

        That’s good because while my husband loves beetroot, me? not so much. :)

  10. Lilikoi Kitchen October 28, 2016 at 2:01 PM - Reply

    Chef Mimi this is a beautiful meal! I love the vibrant color of the risotto, and served with salmon and Brussels sprouts? Delicious!

  11. Julie is Hostess At Heart October 28, 2016 at 3:58 PM - Reply

    I wish your hubby would have tried it! Mine thinks he doesn’t like beets either but I love the idea of these cakes! They are so pretty with the fuschia color and went really well with your other plate ingredients.

    • chef mimi October 29, 2016 at 8:43 AM - Reply

      Thank you. He has it in his mind that he dislikes certain foods although he’s never tried them. After almost 35 years I’ve given up trying…..

  12. Sarah 'n Spice October 28, 2016 at 4:32 PM - Reply

    Maybe this is a good way to get the husband to eat beets :) Love this idea!

    • chef mimi October 29, 2016 at 8:42 AM - Reply

      Even with the beet juice and bits, the risotto wasn’t that “beety.”

  13. Gerlinde @ Sunnycovechef October 28, 2016 at 6:38 PM - Reply

    This looks wonderful and I hope to make it soon. I think it is a great idea to use the beet juice if you have it. I wonder what happens if you you use grated raw beets.

    • chef mimi October 29, 2016 at 8:42 AM - Reply

      I don’t know… You could add them early enough so that they would cook – if grated they wouldn’t take long to cook through, right?!!

  14. abbe odenwalder October 28, 2016 at 6:56 PM - Reply

    Sounds wonderful. Haven’t been to Aspen in years and I miss it! Beets are so popular now a days, I don’t believe there is anything one can’t do with them!

    • chef mimi October 29, 2016 at 8:41 AM - Reply

      It’s a beautiful little town with fabulous restaurants!

  15. anotherfoodieblogger October 28, 2016 at 7:54 PM - Reply

    My husband actually likes beets but I do not. Maybe I could surprise him (and perhaps myself?) with this!

    • chef mimi October 29, 2016 at 8:40 AM - Reply

      Oh no! I had to teach myself to eat mushrooms and beets – such earthy flavors.

  16. Laura @ Feast Wisely October 28, 2016 at 10:10 PM - Reply

    So much goodness in here Chef Mimi from all of that purple!

  17. FrugalHausfrau October 29, 2016 at 12:34 AM - Reply

    Oh I love beets and love risotto! I’d be in heaven eating this! :)

  18. Chica Andaluza October 29, 2016 at 5:40 AM - Reply

    It looks absolutely stunning! Think I’d like to give this a go 😀

  19. Karen October 30, 2016 at 3:09 PM - Reply

    My husband and I both love beets and this sounds like a great new way to enjoy them.

    • chef mimi October 31, 2016 at 6:35 AM - Reply

      The cakes are fun and pretty. Not necessary, but do at least make a risotto with beets. It was spectacular!

  20. Cocoa & Lavender October 30, 2016 at 6:20 PM - Reply

    I am a huge beet risotto fan, although never had any leftover with which to make cakes! Wonderful idea.

    • chef mimi October 31, 2016 at 6:34 AM - Reply

      I can definitely appreciate that! It’s good the traditional way, too. Especially eating it out of the pot!

  21. Summer Daisy November 1, 2016 at 5:34 AM - Reply

    Absolutely delish ♥

  22. kmroehl November 1, 2016 at 5:50 PM - Reply

    I have to try! This risotto is gorgeous and beets just happen to be my favorite vegetable. Thank you for the idea!

  23. ChgoJohn November 2, 2016 at 12:41 AM - Reply

    Didn’t know beet risotto existed, Mimi, but if I saw it on a menu, I’d have to order it. So glad that you were able to recreate the dish and have shared the recipe with us. Thank you.

    • chef mimi November 3, 2016 at 10:00 AM - Reply

      You are so welcome John! I thought it was excellent!

  24. kitchenriffs November 2, 2016 at 10:07 AM - Reply

    Love beets, but have never had them in a risotto. Or even thought about using them in risotto! Neat dish — gotta make it. Thanks!

    • chef mimi November 2, 2016 at 10:09 AM - Reply

      Me, too! But they make a fabulous risotto!

  25. Loretta November 2, 2016 at 3:34 PM - Reply

    We grew beets this summer in the garden where I volunteer. I was amazed how easy they were to grow. Will definitely be saving this recipe for next year’s harvest. Love the color.

  26. scarletclark November 3, 2016 at 10:31 AM - Reply

    Just sublime! I love beetroot, I love risotto – such a gorgeous colour on the plate too. Lovely recipe x

    • chef mimi November 3, 2016 at 10:39 AM - Reply

      Thank you! It was pretty damn good if I might say that!

  27. NoPlateLikeHome.com February 16, 2017 at 4:45 PM - Reply

    Looks interesting. This is something id like to try.

  28. cookiesnchem May 22, 2017 at 7:04 AM - Reply

    Okay, you are officially my #1 favourite blog. I can’t wait to use this recipe for the new beets I bought yesterday.

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