Diana Henry’s beetroot risotto with Lancashire cheese

You can serve this as you would any risotto – with grated pecorino or parmesan on the side – but I like a subtler cheese, and since it isn’t strictly Italian I think it’s alright to use something unexpected. Crumbly Lancashire is perfect.

Prep 20 mins | Cook 30 mins



30g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
400g cooked beetroot, chopped into cubes
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Leaves from 1 sprig of fresh thyme
900ml chicken stock
250g risotto rice
125ml dry vermouth 
2 tbsp double cream (optional)
110g pecorino, grated
small handful fresh parsley, chopped (about 3 tbsp)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve
Lancashire cheese, grated

What to do:

  1. Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the chopped beetroot, shallots, garlic and thyme leaves. Cook gently for 3 minutes until the onion has softened, but hasn’t coloured.
  2. Heat the stock to simmering point.
  3. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat all the grains in the buttery mixture. Cook, stirring, for another 1-2 minutes until the grains begin to look translucent.
  4. Add the vermouth to the pan and allow it to bubble up and reduce slightly. Add a ladleful of the simmering stock, and stir until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, as the liquid is absorbed, stirring between each addition. You have to stir constantly.
  5. Cook the rice until the grains are tender but still have a little bite. It will take at least 20 minutes.
  6. This risotto really does need quite a lot of salt but if you’ve used good home-made stock the dish should already be quite salty. Add the cream if you’re using it (it makes the dish richer and also a paler colour so it’s up to you whether you want it at all), the pecorino and parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve immediately.