Penne in Roasted Beet Sauce

beetpasta1Mark’s (I mean…Mr. P’s!) family has a lot of great food traditions. His aunt married an Italian and thus, their holidays revolve around homemade raviolis in a rich chicken broth. They are heavenly. Mr. Prevention can down 3 bowls of ravioli before even moving on to the turkey and sides. I would say this is impressive…but I’m a dietitian. So I will just say…they are that good and it’s quite the sight.

Mr. Prevention’s family also serves beets at holidays. And it’s very clear at the holiday dinner table, you either love beets…or hate beets. I, am a lover.

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Consider then my eyes opening, wide as could be, after rolling across this recipe online.

Even a blind man could see this pasta’s beauty. That color is unmistakably beets. Stunning!

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When I pondered over whether or not to make this meal, I considered all of the farmer’s market goers and CSA recipients that often times receive produce they haven’t a clue how to use. Beets are one root vegetable that people are often a bit weary about trying or cooking with, and there’s simply no reason why!

Although…they can be a bit prone to staining hands, clothes and other objects. I wear gloves when peeling/cutting the beets in this recipe. Rest assured, my crappy counter tops did come clean…even without the help of bleach.

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But anyways, that time of year is rolling around and there’s absolutely no reason not to take full advantage of all the available local fruits and vegetables. I know for me, chard is one vegetable that has always scared me away. But this year, I’m bound and determined to find a chard recipe I love and adore.

While Mr. Prevention cannot attest to liking this pasta, that is because he didn’t even give it a chance. When I started prepping dinner (which, by the way…I did roast the garlic and beets 2 days ahead as noted below in the directions, and it worked great), Mr. P said, “Well then…I guess it’ll be a pizza night for me!” Oh well. I do think this was in part due to his dislike for beets, as well as the fact that he was in need of ending a pizza drought. Or at least that’s what I’d like to think 😉

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Penne in Roasted Beet Sauce slightly adapted from Bev Cooks, as seen on Apple A Day

6 medium beets, washed clean, stems removed
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp sweet vermouth
3/4 cup (3 oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly-grated
3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
1/2 cup half and half
1 lb. dried whole wheat penne
coarse salt and freshly-ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400.

Place beets and garlic on a large sheet of foil. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Completely seal foil into a packet and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 40-45 minutes. Check for doneness; if beets can be easily pierced with a fork, they are ready. (This step can be done up to two days in advance. Just place the entire foil packet on a plate and keep in the refrigerator. Bring back to room temperature before proceeding.)

Peel beets of their tough skins. Cut into pieces and put into a food processor with juices and oil from the packet. Squeeze garlic from the peels and add thyme, vinegar, vermouth, 1/2 cup cheese and remaining oil. Pulse until mixture becomes smooth.

Transfer beet mixture to a small saucepan. Add the stock and milk or cream and bring to a light simmer. Add the remaining cheese. Simmer on medium-low while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Set a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook penne according to package instructions. Drain and return to pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss to combine. Serve pasta garnished with additional cheese of your choice (I used goat), and sprinkled with poppy or chia seeds.

Yield: 8 servings (about 1 1/4 cup each)

Nutrition Information (per serving): 383 calories; 16.8 g. fat; 14 mg. cholesterol; 303 mg. sodium; 47.9 g. carbohydrate; 7.4 g. fiber; 11.4 g. protein

Result: A simple dish with lots of beet flavor and beauty! If you love beets, you’ll love this. If you don’t love beets or you’re on the fence…it’s probably not the right dish for you. The balsamic vinegar and vermouth add a fun touch with that creamy half and half to finish it off just right. The goat cheese is the perfect last touch. Simple, elegant, and healthy!

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We have some chores to do this morning. Donna and I were supposed to go hiking, but it is supposed to be cold and cruddy in Ohio this weekend. Instead, I’m going to hit the treadmill and we’re meeting for drinks this afternoon 😉

I think it’s pizza night in this house. Mr. Prevention has been begging for deep dish for the past week…literally. Non-stop.

Have a wonderful weekend!

P.S. Beet Hummus and Chocolate Beet Cherry Muffins are great, too!

Be well,

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15 Comments

  1. April 28, 2012 / 9:10 am

    This was immediately bookmarked after seeing Bev’s post on it too. I really, really need to do this beet pasta thing. I love everything about them and my husband is a beet hater as well. Something I see as a benefit if this was around. More for me! 🙂

  2. April 28, 2012 / 10:38 am

    This is so beautiful! Come to think of it…I don’t think I have ever even tried beets. For shame! I may ease myself in with the chocolate muffins working my way to this pasta. It is so striking, I have to try it!

  3. April 28, 2012 / 2:46 pm

    I just love the color! Such an impressive looking dish!
    I have just started using beets more but I need to venture out. This dish looks just perfect! Enjoy your weekend!

  4. April 28, 2012 / 5:58 pm

    I cannot believe what incredible recipes you keep posting! What an interesting idea… so intrigued that I might have to try it. I’ve fallen in love with roasted beets this year.

  5. April 28, 2012 / 9:50 pm

    I LOVE the color of this dish! And I love roasted beets. We have been eating a lot of roasted beets lately. I love them with other roasted veggies, topped with a poached egg. But this is a nice change from the usual. Too bad Mr. P didn’t give the dish a chance. But then again, I used to not like beets when I was younger, and I probably wouldn’t have tried the dish either back then…

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  6. April 28, 2012 / 11:59 pm

    So pretty! We really love roasted beets too – your hubby really missed out!

  7. Lisa Broadley
    April 29, 2012 / 9:51 am

    I totally want to try this! I LOVE beets! But do you think you could omit/substitute the half & half? Possibly with yogurt? I’m lactose intolerant but can eat 90% lactose free yogurt.

    • Nicole, RD
      Author
      April 29, 2012 / 10:03 am

      Lisa: I definitely think that would work…or any other non-dairy milk (soy, rice, almond, etc.)! Thank you 🙂

  8. Colyn
    April 29, 2012 / 3:05 pm

    This recipe looks great! We are a CSA provider and are always looking for recipes to pass along to our members. I read that you are looking for a good chard recipe. We eat it in so many ways but my favorite is swiss chard pesto. Google it to find a reicpe, I found mine online it uses walnuts instead of pinenuts! So yummy!!

  9. April 30, 2012 / 12:30 am

    I love Italian holiday meals!

  10. April 30, 2012 / 9:47 pm

    This pasta looks amazing!!! I love beets but have always been reluctant to cook with it because of the mess but will definitely give this a try.

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