Monday, December 17, 2012

Wheat Berry Risotto with Beetroot and Blue cheese

this time of year is always busy down in the bakery where i work, and this week the orders are flooding in for christmas. so updating the blog has been put on the back burner. sad, but true. i am always thinking about new recipes, though. i've tried out a few ideas, some good, some not so good. i'm looking forward to a whole queue of posts i'm lining up like: pumpkin fudge, lemon geranium custard (my new favourite dessert!), and more on our knobbly giant friend - celeriac. so stay tuned in after christmas!

im revisiting one of my favourite ingredients in this recipe: beetroot. earlier this autumn i dedicated 3 posts to the bold vegetables, if you missed the posts you can read them here, here, and here. has anyone tried the beetroot gin and tonic? they're perfect for christmas parties, and festively coloured!beetroot are really the only things left out in the garden, with some rainbow chard, kale and a handful of broccolli plants. there's quite a few spots opening up and i've begun thinking about the spring whats going where. once christmas passes i'll dive more into it, and post the 2013 garden layout.

if you haven't cooked wheat berries before, they aren't much different than cooking rice. they do take longer to cook, 1 hour unsoaked and about 45 minutes after soaking. the wait is definately worth it, once cooked they retain a nice firm squidgy texture. i think it goes really well with soft earthy beetroot and creamy blue cheese. you should be able to find wheat berries in most whole food shops, sometimes they are labeled 'wheatgrass berries'. they are the whole grain of the wheat plant, that's usually made into flour and are an excellent health food. i cooked this recipe start to finish in one hour, but if you had precooked wheat berries or emmer grains, you could substitute them for a speedy supper. . . and by all means use the traditional risotto rice, if thats what you have handy.

finely chopped onion, celery, and carrot is a classic base for risotto. this mixture is also called: 'sofrito'

Wheat Berry Risotto with Beetroot and Blue Cheese
serves 3 - 4

1 large beetroot, boiled, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
1 carrot
1 celery stick
1 medium white onion
200g wheat berries
1.5 liters vegetable stock, warm
75g blue cheese, such as: cashel blue
a healthy sprig of thyme

  • roughly chop the celery, carrot, and onion. then blitz in a food processor till finely chopped.
  • pour the stock into a small pot and place on low a low heat .
  • in a medium saute pan with a tad of oil, cook the celery, carrot, and onion on medium heat till soft, about 5 minutes add salt and pepper.
  • add the wheat berries, stir gently till heated through.
  • pour a ladle full of the warm stock into the wheat berries, and stir a few times. repeat this step every 5 or so minutes, when most of the stock is absorbed. you don't need to stir constantly.
  • after 45 minutes stir in your beetroot cubes, thyme and blue cheese. add more stock and stir for another 15 minutes.
  • once cooked the wheatberries will be soft but still have a 'bouncey' chew to them. if you're not sure they're done cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  • when done you want the risotto to be creamy and unctious, add more stock if it gets claggy.
  • taste for seasoning, and serve hot with crumbled blue cheese and topped with thyme sprigs
you can prepare this dish in advance, just reheat with a bit of stock when needed.


  1. Do you think that wheat berries are better than say Arborio rice for a risotto? I presume that being harder to find they are more expensive - is that true? I love the combination of beetroot and blue cheese!

  2. wheat berries and arborio rice are completely different grains, with very different textures. i wouldn't say they are better for risotto, but a nice unexpected change from the norm. wheat berries are roughly €2.50 for 500g here in ireland. they seem to be gaining in popularity with the lesser known wheat grains like spelt and farro.

  3. I like this adaptation. Wheat berries are not so common here but I'd like to give this a go.