Photo by Judith Hausman
Here’s a humble, vegetarian pasta combination, perfect for a still-cold night. Often if I find decent winter beets in the market, I roast them right away when baking something else, so the beets can wait ready-to-eat in the fridge. Red beets tossed with luscious ricotta make a pretty pink sauce, but a combination of yellow and red beets is colorful, too.
Roasting makes beets easy to peel and sweeter too. Wrap each one in foil to contain the mess and stow them in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size. Then cool, rub away the skins and slice them.
Whole-wheat pasta boosts the fiber in this one-bowl meal, but use white pasta if you prefer, and choose your herbs according to taste. Dill is very good with beets but so is parsley, thyme or basil. If you don’t have a shallot handy, sauté 1/4 cup red onion and a garlic clove instead. Don’t make the mistake I once did of choosing no-fat ricotta; the dish is so simple that it needs the richer cheese. An assertive grind of fresh black pepper and a grating of good Parmesan cheese on top deepen the flavors, as well.
I served the pasta with a simple salad: hot-house greens, grated carrot, a handful of chick peas and chopped walnuts. I used a few teaspoons of salvaged beet juice in the dressing, too.
Servings: 2 to 3 servings
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- 1/2 pound of any short, whole wheat pasta shape (not long noodles, such as spaghetti)
- 2 medium beets, roasted, peeled and sliced
- 3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, thyme, basil, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
Sauté the chopped shallot in olive oil. Set aside, and cool.
Cook the pasta.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix all other ingredients.
When the pasta is al dente, drain it and dump it into the beet mix along with the shallot and oil. Season and garnish with Parmesan.