Last weekend, on a tip shared by shunafish we decided to wander down to the 10 Year Anniversary of the Islington Farmers Market. Usually it's held on a Sunday, but this particular weekend it was held on a Saturday.
I get really excited about Farmers Markets. When i lived in NYC i used to get up early early on a saturday morning and take a long subway ride from Harlem to the Union Square Greenmarket. The market featured the best of the local farms in the New York metropolitan area. Incredible veg, fruit, one stand devoted to exotic salad leaves, a fab herb stand with a different herb sorbet each week -- thyme, lemon balm, rosemary. Cheeses, breads, cakes and gorgeous flowers. For a while i was working a couple of blocks away on 5th ave and would go there for lunch on wednesdays and fridays. i remember buying sweet succulent heirloom tomatoes that i would eat like an apple with just a sprinkling of salt. or i would pick stuff up for an impromptu sandwich -- sourdough bread, mizuna, smoked meat and creamy goats cheese from Ronnybrook farm. people would get really excited when the first crops of the summer would appear. they'd go crazy for ramps in early spring and you'd have to elbow your way in to get some before they'd sell out.
A few years later i moved out of the city to the hudson valley -- closer to some of the farms that were selling at Union Square. Kels and I would go every saturday to the Rhinebeck Farmers market. This one was as much about seeing neighbors and friends as getting incredibly fresh, just picked produce. I needed Kelsie there to stop me from buying up everything i saw.
And now, having moved to London I've been enjoying visiting the different markets. So i jumped at the suggestion to check out Islington's.
We did a quick circuit through, noting the roast lamb, roast pig (we ended up getting this), veg stands, bread stand, cheese stand and fresh herb stand. The organic veg stand had a special offer on: 5 veg for £5. What a bargain! We ended up with a bunch of beets with their tops intact, a bushy fennel, courgettes, spring onions, and a head of oak leaf lettuce.
Which brings me to this dish. I saw one in the June issue of delicious magazine and knew i wanted to try it out. And not being content to settle for 1 recipe also spent some time trawling through my collection for similar. What's interesting is that the majority suggested finishing the risotto in the oven not on the hob. Not sure why. I combined the recipe elements and while delicious called for mascarpone, i opted for goats cheese. The sauteed greens were a fantastic complement -- iron/earthy tasting against the creamy slightly sweet taste of the risotto.
Beetroot Risotto serves 4
(from June 2009 delicious magazine)
500ml vegetable stock
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 small pink onions, finely chopped (i used 1 large red onion)
3 garlic cloves crushed with salt
5 small beetroot peeled, halved and finely sliced
3 lemon thyme sprigs
300g risotto rice
200ml dry rose wine (i used white)
5 Tbsp mascarpone (i used one log of welsh goats cheese)
100g Grana Padano, finely grated
- Preheat the oven to 200C/fan180C/gas 6. Put the stock and 350ml water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Meanwhile heat 4 Tbsp olive oil and the butter in a heavy casserole and fry the onions and garlic over a medium heat until softened. Add the beetroot and thyme and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Stir in the rice until well coated, then increase the heat and add the wine. Boil until it evaporates. Season well and add all but about 200ml hot stock, and heat until bubbles appear around the sides. Cover with the lid and cook in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the rest of the stock. If the rice is done but still has a little bite, eave to rest for 5 minutes. If still underdone, cook for up to 5 minutes more. Stri in the cheese.
- Trim the beetroot greens and roughly chop. Heat the remaining oil in a wok, add the leaves and season. Turn the heat down and add a little water, cover and cok for a few minutes until just wilted.
- Serve the risotto topped with the sauteed greens and a shaving of Grana Padano.