Beet sauce for pasta - sweet and savory dish showcases versatile veggie
Kim Bayer | AnnArbor.com contributor
Also like Walt Whitman, beets are surprising and can refuse to subvert themselves to expectations. They are among the very earliest, the very latest, and the very longest lasting of the vegetable crop. Beets are a delicious two-fer with roots and greens that can be used separately or as a dynamic duo. Beets come in a rainbow of colors including ivory, sunset orange, blood red, purple red and pink and white striped. The raw and the cooked versions of beets both are good.
You can roast, boil, shred, pickle or fry beets. And they fit into any course of the meal. For an unusual appetizer that even confirmed beet-haters love, try Cathy King's beet caviar. For a moist and dense dessert with a little something extra, try chocolate beet cake. For a novel main course, something delicious you've probably never encountered, consider pasta with beet sauce.
In this sweet and savory entree, the intensity of the sugary beets is balanced by caramelized onion and garlic and plenty of herbs. A smattering of goat cheese and more herbs on top takes it to amazing.
Beet Sauce for Pasta
3-4 medium large beets, roasted, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped mixture of thyme, marjoram, tarragon (plus additional for serving)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
Saute onion in oil until well caramelized. Add garlic. Stir for 2 minutes. Add herbs, beets, salt and pepper. Add wine and cook until the liquid is mostly gone. Puree mixture in processor until very smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. To serve, thin if necessary with cream, wine or broth. Mix with pasta, or serve sauce top of cooked (whole grain) pasta. Add chunks of goat cheese and sprinkle with more herbs.
I find that the final words of Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" acquire new meaning for me when I read them in consideration of beets. For I contain multitudes of beets.
"I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you."
Kim Bayer is a freelance writer and culinary researcher. Email her at kimbayer at gmail dot com.