Spelt Risotto with Beets and Horseradish

Serves 4 (appetizer) or 2 (main course)

1/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 cup spelt, soaked overnight,
and rinsed
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
1 small beet, peeled and cut into 1/8" cubes
1/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 small bulb fennel, cored and
shaved on a mandoline
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup beet juice
1 1/2 cups veggie stock
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 cup madeira
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
4 tbsp. unsalted butter

1. Bring 6 cups salted water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan, add spelt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente (the spelt will retain a slight crunch), 15–20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Whisk together 1 4 tsp. salt, vinegar, and sugar in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved; add beet cubes and let marinate for 1 hour. Drain and chill beets. In a small bowl, mix together crème fraîche and horseradish; set aside in refrigerator. In another small bowl, toss together olive oil and fennel and season with salt and pepper; set aside in refrigerator.

3. Pour beet juice into a 1-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until reduced by half; set beet juice aside and let cool. Meanwhile, heat chicken stock in a small saucepan over medium heat; set aside and keep warm. Heat canola oil in a 10" skillet over medium heat and add garlic and shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 2–3 minutes. Add spelt and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted, 2–3 minutes. Add madeira and cook until it is reduced to a thick syrup, about 5 minutes. Add half of reserved stock and cook, stirring often, until absorbed, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining stock, 1 4 cup at a time,
and cook until it is absorbed before adding the next amount. Add the reduced beet juice and cook, stirring often, until liquid is creamy and spelt is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in Parmesan and butter, and season with salt and pepper; let risotto sit for 3 minutes.

4. To serve, divide the risotto between 4 shallow serving bowls and top with a dollop of the reserved horseradish cream. Garnish the risotto with the reserved fennel and beet cubes. Serve warm.

Adapted from Saveur.