I have a confession to make. I’m a recovering beet-hater.
It’s true. Until 2010, I was convinced that beets tasted like dirt. Then I spent a semester in Denmark and ate my weight in pickled beets (and dried fruit & nuts; but that’s another story for another time).
When I returned to the states I was hooked. Pickled beets — or at least good pickled beets — aren’t as readily available here, so I started roasting ’em. And I fell in love.
Roasting beets takes forever. And your hands get all stained, but the time and effort is totally worth it for a truly delicious melt-in-your-mouth roasted beet. But what I love about this recipe is that there is no roasting required for delicious, earthy beet taste and none of the au de dirt!
I think I’ve talked before about my roommate’s dad and what an AMAZING cook he is and the ADORABLE cookbook he made for her when she graduated from college. This recipe is one of his. I adapted it ever so slightly to make it vegetarian. And all I can say is YUM. Thanks for the gift of beet pasta, Mr. B! I can certainly see this becoming a winter staple in Apartment 20.
- 5 medium-sized beets
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 lb pasta (I used gluten-free penne)
Peel beets and cut into 1 inch pieces. Combine beets, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until the beets are chopped very fine. Transfer the beet mixture to a skillet, and sautee over medium heat for 5 minutes. Reduce heat, add wine and broth, and simmer for 35-40 minutes.
Meanwhile cook pasta until al dente. Drain and combine with the cooked beet mixture. Stir in parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
Basil is…not my favorite herb. To me, there is nothing worse than taking a bite of what I thought was a benign spinach salad, only to chomp down on an unexpected basil leaf. I can take or leave a basil-infused herbal cocktail, but a dessert is not a dessert if it contains even the subtle suggestion of herbs (I’m looking at you, artisan ice cream makers).
Maybe my palate is underdeveloped or unsophisticated, but I firmly believe there is a time and a place for basil: pasta, pizza, and, of course, pesto.
But even pesto can go basil-free if it wants. Okay, if I want). Spinach and kale are common substitutes, but Roommate H told me that her dad sometimes uses blanched asparagus. What?! Vegetable enthusiast that I am, I knew I had to try it.
I was not disappointed (to say the least).
This pesto tastes green. Green like springtime, picnics, farmer’s markets, and the promise of summer. I couldn’t resist folding it into a seasonally inspired pasta salad: sweet peas, tangy sun-dried tomatoes, and tart lemon.
I hope spring has sprung in your corner of the world. It’s finally here in New York (I think).
Here’s hoping I didn’t just jinx it.
Asparagus Pesto Pasta Salad
Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side
For the pesto:
- 1 pound asparagus, cut into two-inch pieces (ends trimmed)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons raw pine nuts
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
For the pasta salad:
- 8 oz pasta (I used gluten-free fusilli)
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Strain, set in a large bowl or pot, and allow to cool completely.
Blanch asparagus in boiling water for one minute, drain, and set aside. Combine asparagus, garlic, pine nuts, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Drizzle olive oil into the processor with the motor running. Blend until smooth.
Add peas and sun-dried tomatoes to the pasta. Spoon pesto over top and mix to combine. Drizzle with lemon juice and either chill or serve at room temperature.