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Beetfredo (Whole Wheat Penne with Roasted Beet Sauce)

November 30, 2012

I bought some beets intending to make beet chips, which Emily – God love her – brought into my life.  Then I didn’t feel like going through all that effort, and I needed a fun dinner idea, so I settled on this pasta with a sauce of roasted beets and Greek yogurt.  I’ll make beet chips another time.  Or ply Em with flowers and chocolates and beg her to make me some next time I see her.

This is an . . . interesting dish.  The flavor is very, very beet-y, which I love.  However, I harbored hope that this would be a good way to “hide the vegetables” and get pickier eaters to eat more veggies.  Alas, if you don’t like the flavor of beets, this dish will not fool you, and you will not like it.

The original recipe called for 2 TBSP of lemon zest, which I thought was a bit excessive.  I might try it next time, though, because I tasted the lemon I did use but thought more would be fine.

You could also use any type of pasta you want, but I felt like making the dish extra healthy by using the whole wheat pasta I had on hand – I really wanted to take my post-Thanksgiving detox seriously.  Next time, I might try being really adventurous and using some spinach pasta.

I wanted to use the beet greens, in the spirit of our mantra, “Waste not, want not.”  I planned to cut the leaves off the stems and throw them in with the pasta for the last few minutes of the pasta cooking.  When I pulled the beets out of the fridge, the greens looked a little wilted, so I didn’t use them this time.  I’ll try that next time and report back!

Pasta with Roasted Beet Sauce

Adapted from The Realistic Nutritionist; makes 9 cup-sized servings (4 beloved carnivore servings)

  • 3 large beets
  • 1 large onion (use only half if you’re not a big onion fan)
  • 1 lb of pasta (I used whole wheat penne)
  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • zest of one lemon (or 2 TBSP of lemon zest, see note above)
  • 1 – 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • goat cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet or baking pan with foil or parchment paper.  Pull beets from stems, rinse, and put the beets and the onion on cookie sheet or in baking pan.  (You do not need to peel the onion).

When the oven is preheated, roast the beets and the onion for forty-five minutes, rotating occasionally.  At this point, the onion should be done; pull it out and set it aside.  Wearing an oven mitt, test the beets’ softness.  Mine were still rock hard at this point.  Continue roasting the beets until they give when squeezed.  Mine took an hour and a half.

While the beets are cooking, cook the pasta according to the package’s instructions.  When the pasta is done, drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.   Rinse the pasta in a little cold water to stop it from continuing to cook.  Leave the empty pot out but off-heat.

Remove the beets from the oven and carefully slice them in half, then let them cool for ten minutes.   After doing a little reading, I sprayed some Pam on my fingers to help keep beet stains from seeping too deep into my fingers.  I still got beet juice all over my hands, but it rinsed off easily.  Who knows if the Pam was responsible, though.  Gloves work, too.

Peel the beets.  I used a paring knife to sort of cut them out of their peels.  Put them in the bowl of your food processor (trust me, this is not the ideal situation for an immersion blender, but if that’s all you have, you can use it, so long as you’re prepared for little spots of beet juice to color your kitchen floor and stovetop).  Peel the onion – after it’s roasted, you can just squeeze it out of the outside peel – and add that in.  Add in the peeled garlic cloves, Greek yogurt, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.   Pulse several times, then process until smooth.  Dump this bright purple mixture and the pasta into the empty pasta pot.  Mix everything thoroughly, until the pasta is fully coated.  Thin with reserved pasta water, as needed – I added about 1/4 cup.

If the pasta is cold, put the pot over low heat and stir frequently until warmed, adding a splash of pasta water occasionally to prevent it from drying out.

Top with crumbled goat cheese, if desired.  Enjoy!  And make sure you store it in glass or metal containers, not plastic, to avoid staining.

P.S. This stuff smells a little interesting when you open it after it’s been refrigerated (oh, the perils of using fun vegetables), but if you microwave it, splash a little water on top, and stir, it’ll be back to normal.

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