May 20, 2011
If you’re bored with the same old beet salad with goat cheese, here is a creative and unusual way to use beets that will woo your senses. This beet pasta is beautiful, healthy, and delicious like you wouldn’t believe. The pink pasta with hot pink sauce would bring Pinkalicious to tears (And really, beets are a much healthier way to get your “pink” on than cupcakes). The girls and I had way too much fun recreating this recipe from Mollie’s class, and I got to sneak in extra veggies for the kids—bonus!
Even if your entertaining needs lean more toward the adult foodie type, and not little girls’ pink parties (not like a grownup couldn’t have a pink-party…in fact, I recommend it), this beet pasta is an exceptional dish to serve. Not only is it impressive in its uniqueness and flavor, but you can make the sauce and fresh pasta pretty well in advance. When I do a pasta course for guests, I like to bring everyone into the kitchen while I cook the pasta, heat up the sauce, and toss everything together right there. It’s fun, casual, and a little unexpected.
Photo from Mollie’s class by Erin Feinblatt
Wine: In Mollie’s class, we drank a Barbera de Alba from Burlotto with our pasta. This is a producer that Chris Robles helped me find (he’s my go-to wine expert when le husband is indisposed), but if you can’t find our exact wine, ask someone knowledgeable at your local wine shop for the most traditional-style Barbera they have. In my opinion, traditionally made wines just go better with food, and a good Barbera is a light-bodied red wine that complements this pasta beautifully.
If you’re going to go through the trouble to make your pasta from scratch, I think you owe it to yourself to drink good wine with the dish. Actually, I believe that no matter what you make (next time you order pizza, try pairing it with a good red) you should do your best to drink delicious wine because it will elevate your eating experience. Good wine does not have to be expensive, just well chosen. This is why, in my mind, it always pays to ask for a recommendation. Honestly, at the end of the day, it’s wine! Don’t be afraid to try new things and have fun with it.
Beet Pasta with Beet Sauce
I adapted this recipe from the information that Mollie gave us in class. The sauce is really forgiving but needs to be tasted for seasoning. It’s pretty hard to go wrong here — this dish is delicious and so beautiful to make.
A scale (mine is this neat retro-looking thing from Tyhpoon)
100 grams of beets cooked, cleaned, large dice (usually about 1 medium size beet)
10.5 oz white flour
10.5 oz semolina
3 large whole eggs
Boil your 3 to 4 beets (for both the pasta and the sauce) with skin on in a pot filled with salty water for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until fork tender. After they are cooked and cooled, slightly rub with paper towels to remove skin.
Pulverize eggs with 100 grams of beet(s) in a food processor or blender until all the ingredients are completely pureed. Mix the beet mixture with the flour and semolina until it holds together when you squeeze it with your hand. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it comes together and is smooth. Dough will be on the dry side and somewhat gritty in texture. If it won’t bind well, then add a tiny bit of water as you kneed.
Let the pasta dough rest for at least 30 minutes then run it through your pasta maker and cut it as you choose. Just before you are ready to eat and your sauce is done, cook the pasta ribbons in heavily salted water until done (3-5 minutes).
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for finishing
2 medium size beets cooked, cleaned, chopped
2 large shallots, small dice
6 – 8 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup vegetable broth or water
1/2 cup white wine
White pepper and salt to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan, separated 1/4 for finishing the pasta on the stovetop and 1/4 for garnish
Extra virgin olive oil
Cut up the cooked beets and reserve. In a large skillet, sauté shallot and garlic with olive oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes, taking care not to burn. Next add the beets, white wine, stock or water (depending on what you are using), white pepper, and salt. Simmer on medium-low for about 5-7 minutes. Taste the broth for seasoning.
Transfer the beet mixture to a blender or food processor and blend the mixture until totally incorporated and smooth. Your sauce is basically done. You can either store it in an air-tight container until you need it for the pasta, or pour the sauce back in to pan and let it sit until the pasta is done cooking.
When the pasta is almost done, heat the sauce in the pan, and taste for seasoning. If the sauce seems a little thick, add some of the pasta water as the pasta cooks. Then ladle some of the heated sauce onto your plates for serving. When your pasta is cooked, strain it and add it to the sauce in the large skillet. Toss the pasta in the sauce, then turn off the heat and add about 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, stirring to incorporate.
Photo of Mollie by Erin Feinblatt
Transfer coated pasta to your bowls and garnish with grated Parmesan, olive oil, and a sprinkling of parsley to serve. To see Mollie make this pasta, check out the video from our class.