Monday, February 22, 2010

Red beet risotto with lime marinated tofu and celeriac straw

When I was making my grocery shopping list a few weeks ago, a picture of a gorgeous red risotto caught my eye.  My skeptical eyes ran down the list of ingredients - lime marinated shrimps, red beets, celeriac, red wine and araborio rice, but then it fell on the picture again.  It was dazzling.  I thought, hmm, not such a big beet person. Looked at the picture and fell a little bit in love.  

While my eyes had been convinced, this was a recipe to try, my mind was stilling mulling around the risotto part of it. Risotto - it's one of those dishes that can be exquisite or can really flop. I am always tempted to order it in restaurants, just like gnocchi Gorgonzola but I rarely do. A bad risotto is bad indeed. Will it be one of those horrid flops?   Truth be told, I'm pretty certain I've had more bad risottos than I've had good.  The disappointment of mushy rice, or worse rice not thoroughly cooked, in some sort of creamy sauce is only made worse by the expectations and hopes of what risotto can be.  A creamy, delightfully mild and sensuous dish.

Determined however, I took a look at the recipe, opened my fridge and let a bit of experimental fancy take hold of me.  The result has reminded me why I love a good risotto and how the unexpected can add just that something special to a dish to make everyone go "WOW!"

This is definitely a recipe to keep, to try and to offer guests.

Risotto is a finicky dish.  It can only be made with a medium- or short-grained rice.  That long-grained Uncle Ben's variety will never achieve risotto greatness. Arborio, Carnoroli and Vialone Nano are probably the most common rices, but feel free to use others.  I used a whole-grain round rice. 

On a personal note: I have found that my kitchen is a parallel dimension when it comes to risotto. It doesn't matter which recipe or which type of risotto rice I use, my cooking time and water amounts will be about double or triple of what the recipe calls for.  This however doesn't seem to apply to other types of rice like sushi or basmati. This recipe was no exception. I've left the liquid amounts and the times alone in this recipe, because if I put in my weird risotto-other-dimension cooking times, you'd end up with burnt rice and blame me. But for the curious, I used about 800ml of liquid and cooked the rice about 35 min. 

This recipe is definitely one to try. Who doesn't like cooking with wine? You can then serve the rest of the bottle with dinner - that is if you haven't finished it off yourself while cooking.

Red beet risotto with lime marinated tofu and celeriac straw,  adapted from Bio Maran grocery flier, 20/01/10

Notes: I used a whole-grain version of risotto rice.  Marinated tofu cubes can be made up to a day in advance, but fry them right before adding them to the dish. Celeriac straw should be made at the last minute. You are using the lime zest so it's very important that you use organic here. If you can't find pumpkin seed oil, use a high quality olive oil.

Prep time: 30 min
Cooking time: 30-40 min

300 g / 10.5 oz extra firm or smoked tofu
1 lime, organic
soy sauce, just a few sprinkles
50 g / 2 oz ginger, fresh
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium shallots (or small onions)
450 g / ~1 pound red beets
60 ml / 4 tablespoons / 1/4 cup pumpkin seed oil
300 ml / 1 1/4 cup red wine
300 g / 10.5 oz. risotto rice (short-grained, round rice)
700 ml / 3 cups vegetable broth, hot
salt, pepper
250 g / ~9 oz. celeriac (celery root)
oil for frying (i.e., peanut or safflower)
fresh thyme for garnish
paper towels


1.   If your tofu is wet or not so firm, line a plate with paper towels, place the tofu on the paper towel, and place another plate on top of the tofu to press out the water. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes.
2.   Meanwhile, using a small grater, zest the lime peel and set aside. Cut the lime in half.  Squeeze out the juice from the lime and mix with the lime zest. Add a sprinkle of soy sauce.
3.   Peel the ginger and finely grate.  Add half to the lime and soy sauce mixture.  Set aside the rest. 
4.   Cut the tofu into circa 1 cm cubes and stir carefully into the lime, soy, ginger marinade. Set aside.
5.   Prep the vegetables: Peel and mince the garlic and shallots.  Peel the red beets (you'll probably want to wear gloves) and cut them as well into 1 cm cubes. Peel the celeriac, cut into long thin strips, set aside.
6.   Over medium heat, heat the pumpkin seed oil in a large pan. Add the shallots, garlic, the remaining ginger, and the red beets. Sautée for approx. 1 min. Add the red wine. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the rice. Stir. Add the vegetable broth, a bit at a time, salt-and-pepper. Lower heat and continue to simmer until the rice is cooked, stirring occasionally, approximately 10-15 minutes.
7.   Meanwhile, heat the frying oil in a deep pan or wok. When hot, quickly fry the marinated tofu until golden brown. Dry on paper towels. 
8.   Fry celeriac strips until crispy and golden brown. Dry on paper towels. 
9.   Arrange the risotto on each plate, add a few bits of fresh thyme, layer the lime tofu on top, and finish with a garnish of celeriac straw.
© 2010 Nicole


  1. Lovely blog you have here.

    I think your risotto looks fab. i especially love the addition of lime tofu and the celeriac straws. I'll keep them in mind for a future dish.

  2. Thanks Mangocheeks!

    The lime tofu and celeriac straw really made this dish! It went from good to wow.

    I'll be trying your redbeet risotto - the goat cheese sounds delish.



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