This is strikingly, deeply pink food you don’t need to be afraid of. You could cook the beets from scratch (see note, below), but we found it easier to use the vacuum-packed cooked beets in the refrigerated section of grocery store produce departments.
Serve with a green salad that contains fresh fruit, or alongside a piece of simply sautéed or grilled fish.
Adapted from Heather Christo’s Generous Table: Easy & Elegant Recipes Through the Seasons, by Heather Christo (Kyle, 2013).
Beet Pesto Pasta
10 ounces dried bucatini pasta
17.6 ounces (2 packages) cooked fresh purple beets (may substitute 1 1/2 to 2 pounds fresh purple beets; see note)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons raw pistachios
1 large lemon
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for optional garnish
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook according to the package directions.
Meanwhile, cut the beets into quarters and place in a food processor. Add the garlic and the half cup of pistachios, then squeeze in the quarter-cup of juice from the lemon, being careful not to let any lemon seeds fall in. Pulse until well combined; then, with the motor running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream to form a smooth pesto.
Remove the food processor blade. Use a small (stainproof) spatula to stir in the cheese. Taste, and add salt if needed.
Drain the pasta, rinse with cool water and drain again. Transfer to a serving bowl. Add the beet pesto and toss until evenly incorporated. Crush the remaining 2 tablespoons of pistachios and sprinkle on top, then garnish with cheese, if desired.
Note: To cook beets for this recipe, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add 3 large purple (unpeeled but trimmed) beets. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes, until just fork-tender. Drain and rinse with cool water. Use your fingers to rub off and discard the skins. Makes 4 servings.