a home cook with notions & an appetite
I actually got beets in my CSA basket two weeks ago, but you know what happens when you forget to trim the greens off of your beets and throw them into a bag and suck out the air? Yeah, they go mushy and icky.
Luckily, I had three decent beets ready for the picking in my own garden. First things first, I needed to roast these beets. I cut the two larger ones in half and roasted them for about 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven with olive oil, salt and pepper:
Once the beets were done roasting, they were easy peeling and a quick dice:
Now onto the details of how I arrived at a pasta dish that sounded like a great way to highlight beets without relegating them to a pickle or side dish. I first stumbled across Marquita Farm’s beet page. A fantastic collection of beet recipes. Their recipe for Whole Beet Pasta Sauce was attributed to Kitchen Garden Magazine which is a UK title. In the US, the magazine is now the website Vegetable Gardner and they do have the recipe on their site. And that’s how we get to this recipe.
The ingredients as I cooked with them (there was a lot more oil, pasta & cheese in the original than I thought was necessary – and I could have cut back even more on the oil in the end):
With the beets roasted (and my hands thoroughly washed and the cutting board scrubbed of beet juice), the oven still had a job to do in roasting the pine nuts at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. While the pine nuts were roasting, I had time to juice the lemon and lime until I had about half a cup of citrus.
Did I mention the boiling water yet? The boiling, salted water, that is? Because that’s going on in the background as well. The rest of these steps don’t take very long, so my fettuccini was already cooking when these next steps started.
I heated the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat and added my garlic and let it go to town just until it started to turn. Once the garlic was on its way, I added the beets and orange/lime juice and cooked for a few minutes until the citrus reduced by half. (The smell? Amazing.) Next comes my favorite part of spinach magic – the pan wilt of a massive pound of spinach into a manageable and compact pile in less than 4 minutes. Between the spinach and beets, it’s like Christmas in August. So much so, that my pasta is also al-dente and ready to join the spinach-beet mixture along with the pine nuts. As you might notice from the photo, the citrus-beet sauce immediately dyes the fettuccine pink. The last step is for me to mix in some Gorgonzola which makes for a light cream sauce.
I could have eaten mounds and mounds of this pasta. It wasn’t the prettiest dish I’ve ever made, but between the citrus and spinach and the earthiness of the beets, pine nuts and the bridge of tart and earth that Gorgonzola brings to the mix, this was just a party in every mouthful.