In this Valentine-hued dish, tender salmon accompanies hearty risotto, an Italian specialty made with high-starch Arborio rice. When simmered with warm stock and a little wine (red, instead of the traditional white), the rice gets creamy and thick while staying delightfully chewy. A medley of roasted beets and grated Parmesan cheese will keep your dinner companion swooning long after the last forkful.
1 bunch baby beets
⅛ ounce thyme, divided
8 ounces vegetable stock
2 packets unsalted butter
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup red wine
2 fillets wild Alaskan salmon
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2½ tablespoons olive oil
1 cup water
2 8″medium pots, 1 with lid
10″ medium pan
– To strip thyme leaves, pinch the stem near the top with one hand, then slide the fingers of your other hand down the length of the stem, from top to bottom. The leaves will come off easily.
– When making risotto, cold liquid is not welcome, as it can halt the rice’s cooking and cause it to cook unevenly. Preheating the stock and water before adding to the pot helps the rice reach creamy deliciousness faster.
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Rinse beets, trim and discard leaves, and peel. Cut into .25-inch dice. Halve lemon. Peel shallot and mince. Strip thyme leaves, discarding stems (see Recipe Tip).
On a baking sheet, toss beets with 1 tablespoon olive oil, .25 teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Arrange in a single layer and roast until tender, 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, combine vegetable stock and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then remove pot from heat, cover to keep warm, and set aside (see Recipe Tip).
While stock comes to a boil, heat butter and .5 tablespoon olive oil in a separate medium pot over medium-high heat. When butter is foamy, add shallot and half of thyme and sauté, stirring, until softened, 2-3 minutes.
Add rice to pot with shallot over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until toasted and translucent, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine and cook until mostly absorbed, 1 minute. Add warmed stock and .5 teaspoon salt. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 15-18 minutes.
Halfway through risotto cooking, pat salmon dry with paper towel and season all over with .5 teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add salmon skin-side down and sear, pressing down with a spatula, until skin is crisp and brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle remaining thyme over flesh, flip, and sear until cooked through and opaque, about 3 minutes more.
Transfer salmon to serving plates, then return pan to medium-high heat and add lemon halves cut-side down. Cook until slightly charred, 1-2 minutes, then add to plates with salmon. Stir Parmesan and roasted beets into pot with risotto to combine. Serve beet risotto alongside salmon, squeeze over charred lemon, and enjoy your lovely masterpiece!