No, it isn’t February.
And I’m certainly not celebrating Valentine’s Day a month late.
Nope. I made hot pink pasta just for the heck of it.
I came across this recipe on Pinterest a while back and was absolutely enthralled with the idea of a beet pesto. For starters, IT’S HOT PINK PASTA. What more could I possibly want?
In addition to being the coolest looking pasta on the planet, I had a hunch that beet pesto pasta would taste amazing. I used to hate beets, but in recent years I’ve been converted. I think you could even call me ‘beet obsessed’ (See examples: A, B, C, and D).
I find that I make a lot of pesto during Great Lent, as it’s easily adapted to fit within a vegan diet. As much as I love pesto, it can get old quickly. Hence, why I was so excited to try out an entirely different version of pesto.
The beet pesto turned out brilliantly. Somehow, it tastes similar to a classic basil pesto, even though it doesn’t contain basil, pine nuts, or parmesan. However, unlike a classic basil pesto, this pesto has a touch of sweetness and an earthy quality from the beets. I’m not sure how it all works, but it does. It’s rich, flavorful, and unexpected.
One quick word of caution: don’t wear white when you eat this pesto! It’s a hot pink disaster waiting to happen. :)
BEET AND WALNUT PESTO
Adapted from Pearlsa.com
2-3 medium sized beets, roasted* and skins removed
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
1/4 cup toasted walnuts (plus more, for garnish)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
salt & pepper, to taste
1 package whole wheat spaghetti
*The beets can be roasted ahead of time. To roast the beets, simply wrap each whole beet in tinfoil and roast (on a baking sheet) in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes to an hour, or until the beets are soft all the way through when pricked with a knife. Once the beets are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin (should peel off easily). Beets can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days prior to use.
Place the walnuts in a food processor (or blender) and process for a minute (until finely chopped). Add in the garlic and half of the olive oil, and process until combined. Chop the beets into small chunks and add in the beets, sun dried tomatoes, lemon juice, chili flakes, salt, pepper, and the rest of the olive oil. Process until the mixture is well-blended and smooth, stopping occasionally to scrap down the sides. Refrigerate the beet pesto if not using immediately.
Cook noodles according to the package directions. When the noodles are done, toss with a generous amount of the beet pesto, until the noodles are well coated. Garnish with extra chopped (toasted) walnuts, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a grind of fresh black pepper. (I also served the pasta alongside some roasted asparagus, which worked nicely with the pasta.)
Note: I had quite a bit of the pesto sauce leftover, and used it the next day to make a grilled avocado sandwich. I spread a thick layer of the beet pesto on wheat bread, and then topped it with avocado, arugula, radishes, and pickled onions. It was AMAZING.