A restaurant favorite and a traditional Italian dish, this is a great way to use those spring beets.
For the most vibrant color, use the deepest red beets that you can find.
Difficulty level: more difficult but worth it. You can make this more simple by using already-cooked plain beets (not pickled), usually found in the refrigerated produce case.
Serves 2-3 people
- 3-4 medium-sized beets, cleaned and cut into a 3/4 inch dice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons vermouth
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, or vegan parm with additional for finishing
- 1/4 cup cashew cream or plant-based milk
- 1/2 pound pasta (penne, orecchiette, or bowties)
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
- Mint leaves, for garnish
- Additional parmesan or goat cheese (vegan or regular) for serving
- Preheat oven to 400°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the diced beets with 1 Tbs. oil, thyme sprigs, pepper and a small pinch of salt. Roast for 40 minutes or until fork tender, adding the garlic cloves to the pan for the final 10 minutes. Check for doneness of the beets at the 30-minute mark.
- Transfer roasted beets and garlic to a food processor. Add the balsamic vinegar, vermouth, half of the cheese. Pulse until it is pretty smooth, scraping down the sides and adding a small amount of broth if needed.
- Transfer beet mixture to a saucepan. Add the broth and cashew cream and bring to a light simmer. Add the remaining cheese and another pinch of salt. Simmer on medium-low.
- Toast the poppy seeds in a small skillet until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and return to skillet. Pour the sauce over the pasta, add the chopped mint leaves and toss to combine. Give it one more taste. Season accordingly.
- Serve pasta garnished with a good sprinkle of the poppy seeds and the mint leaves. Garnish with cheese, as desired.