Hmmm. Do these really go together? Pasta and beets? My daughter brought me a package of cream and magenta striped farfalle from Italy so beautiful that it’s been sitting in my pantry untouched, preening. The magenta sections were colored with beets, so why not?
Come a wintry snowbound day when I was supposed to be elsewhere laden with a beet salad for a crowd, I thought, “What am I going to make with all of those beets?” now that the event has been postponed. Luckily, all I’d done to that point was roast them. Also luckily, I caught wind of the fact that the gathered guests were not likely to fawn all over the beets, with their staining color and their earthy, mineral-like flavor. Little did they know that my beets represented three gorgeous varieties (candy-striped Chioggias, golden beets and the dark red ones we associate with the vegetable) and that I’d planned a dressing of orange juice and zest whisked with walnut oil and surprise garnishes to give the guests something to pick at around the beets. Nice, unless you have an anti-root bias.
Cooped up inside all, I needed a creative task, hence pasta and beets. I sliced the beets into fan shapes that mimicked the shape of the farfalle and tossed them in chopped garlic lightly cooked in olive oil.
Then I had a second ah ha. I’ve often been driven to creativity when I have an excess of ingredients, which in this case were not only the beets but also a crate of tangelos that arrived as a gift. They were going to be one of the surprise garnishes I had been planning for the beet salad. I decided they had to go into the pasta and beets, so I roasted them! Thinly sliced, sprinkled with a little brown sugar (to help them brown), a few drops of olive or nut oil, and salt and pepper, they roasted in at 400-degree oven for about 10 minutes until tender and browned. I cut them into fans just like the beets, and arranged them, along with the beets on the cooked pasta that had been salted and sprinkled with walnut oil. Delicious.
For a main dish for two people, I used 1 2 ½-inch round dark red beet, 1 clove of garlic, most of 1 tangelo, and ½ the bag of dried pasta (6 oz). Olive oil could be used instead of the walnut oil.