Thursday, July 25, 2013

Penne Pasta with Roasted Beet Sauce


I don't think there's a whole lot I have to say to make you intrigued about this dish.  It's neon pink!!  The night I made this for dinner, my daughter saw me grating the parmesan and asked if we were having spaghetti.  I replied, "no, I'm making pink noodles," to which she then said, "pink noodles, that just doesn't make any sense!"  I had to laugh, she's kind of right, it does seem a little out there.  However, if you're a beet-lover, this will be right up your alley.

This pasta actually has a similar flavor profile of an ice cream I made last summer with beet puree, mascarpone, poppy seeds and orange.  I was thinking about it the whole time I was making this pasta.  Mmmmmm!  I ended up not having an orange though, which I actually wanted to use, so I used lemon instead at the last second and it worked out perfectly.  The citrus cuts the earthy dirt-like flavor of the beets and really balances and brightens up the sauce.

This dish is super quick to throw together.  If you roast your beets ahead of time, the sauce can be done in the time it takes the pasta to cook.  Yay for quick and easy.  Serve it with a large salad, and you're good to go.


Penne Pasta with Roasted Beet Sauce
3 medium-sized beets, cleaned and quartered
2 Tbsp.  olive oil
pinch of dry thyme (or a sprig or two 0f fresh)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. white cooking wine (or a little extra pasta water or stock)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup heavy cream (can sub full-fat coconut milk)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest
juice of half a lemon
3/4 pound penne pasta
salt and freshly ground pepper

Garnishes:
poppy seeds
mint leaves, chopped
extra parmesan


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the diced beets with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes.  (You could also roast the garlic with the beets-yum!)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Drop pasta and cook according to package directions.

Transfer beets to a food processor. Add the garlic, balsamic vinegar, cooking wine, half of the parmesan and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Pulse until smooth.

Transfer beet mixture to a small saucepan. Add the stock and cream and bring to a light simmer. Add the sugar and the remaining cheese. Simmer on medium-low about 5-7 minutes. Take it off the heat. (If you have an immersion blender now would be a good time to give it one last whiz so it's nice and smooth.  Or you can put it back in the food processor or a blender.)  Just before adding it to the cooked pasta, add the lemon zest and juice; stir to combine. Taste for seasoning.

Drain cooked pasta and return to skillet. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss to combine. Check for seasoning one more time and adjust as necessary. Allow pasta to sit a few minutes to soak up the sauce.

Serve pasta warm, with garnishes of your choice.

Michele's notes:
-if you don't have a lemon, you could use an orange in it's place for both the zest and juice, probably even a lime in a pinch; just add a little at a time so it's not overpowering.
-If you don't have fresh mint leaves or can't find them, try using cilantro or even fresh basil.


Source: Adapted from Bev Cooks 

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