Zero Waste Meal: Beet & Rosemary Risotto

It’s been storming here in Oakland, CA. It’s been one of the wettest winters on record for the state, and not that we’re complaining (after 5 years of drought), but is it spring yet? Until then, I’ll use the weather as an excuse to bundle (and cuddle up), get extra sleep, drink spicy golden milk lattes and cook hearty meals over a warm stove. I believe in listening to the body and mine has been saying, Nap time! and More risotto, please! It feels good to honor these cravings and embrace the bold, vibrant colors of winter – rainbow chard, butternut squash, kale and beets.

There’s been an abundance of beets at our farmers’ market and we’ve been stocking up. They have loads of health boosting benefits – high in vitamin C, fiber and essential minerals (including potassium and manganese). Beyond its health rewards, this beet risotto has become a go-to when I’m cooking for a loved one – it’s savory and earthy with a subtle sweetness and its crimson hue is pretty much the color of love. In fact, the ancient Romans considered beets to be an aphrodisiac – romantic dinner, anyone?

Here’s how I made this a zero waste meal:

Beets, Onion, Garlic & Chard: Bought at local farmers’ market.

Arborio Rice: Bought in bulk at local grocery store, Berkeley Bowl.

Balsamic Vinegar & Ghee: Bought in recyclable glass jars at Berkeley Bowl. Eventually, I’d love to find a place that sells good quality balsamic vinegar in bulk.

Bullion: Bought in recyclable box with cubes wrapped individually in recyclable foil. Eventually, I would like to make and freeze my own cubes.

Parmesan: Bought at local Oakland cheese shop in my own container, plastic-free!

Rosemary: “Borrowed” from a neighbor's abundant plant.

Zero Waste Recipe: Beet Risotto


  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ cup arborio rice
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary sprigs, removed from stem
  • 1 cup beet, grated
  • 1 cup rainbow chard, thinly sliced
  • 1 vegetable bullion cube
  • parmesan cheese, to taste
  • salt & pepper, to taste


  1. Boil 4 cups of water, stir in bouillon cube until it disintegrates and set aside.
  2. Melt ghee in a pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and sauté until slightly translucent and caramelized.
  3. Add garlic and sauté for another minute or two until fragrant.
  4. Add balsamic, rosemary and rice and stir until rice is coated, about a minute.
  5. Add beets and slowly start adding vegetable broth, ½ cup at a time and stirring as the rice absorbs the liquid and becomes al dente (~25-30 minutes).
  6. Stir in the chard ~15-20 minutes into cooking the rice.
  7. Season with salt, pepper and parmesan.
  8. Garnish with extra parmesan and rosemary and serve.