Our CSA is now including beets in our share weekly and while I really love roasted beets in salad or paired with goat cheese, or served warm with dill, I must say my repertoire is in no way extensive enough to keep up with the quantities in my crisper.
As some of you may know, I was recently given a pasta machine and used it for the first time last week and now I'm on a roll (sorry, had to make the pun!). When I saw a gorgeous post from Inge at Vanielje Kitchen for beetroot pasta I knew I had to to try it. Sometimes things just come together in the nicest way.
I've learned a few things:
1) Making fettucini on a seriously hot and humid day is a challenge. There is no point in trying to make pretty nests, as everything just sticks to itself.
2) When the nests idea fails, having something ready to hang the strips of pasta from is wise. I ended up using plastic coat hangers! (Note to self: get some dowel rods for this purpose.)
3) Trying to deal with long strands of fettucini while answering a continuously ringing phone is insane. Turn off the phone next time.
It's difficult to outshine blazingly pink pasta, but the sauce recipe I used does just that. The sweet, earthy combination of beets with garlic, sage, blue cheese and cream had our eyes rolling back in our respective heads with pleasure.
And if you want to keep up with the pink theme, serve some Pink Lemonade Bars for dessert.
Roast the beets:
Wash 6 medium-sized beets. Cut off the tops and wrap each in aluminum foil (drizzle olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt). Place in a shallow pan and bake at 400 F for 50-60 minutes. (If it's too hot to be using the oven, you can put the beets in a dish, drizzle with the olive oil and salt and then cover them with plastic wrap and microwave them for about 8 - 10 minutes.) Allow the beets to cool for 15 minutes or so and then using a paper towel, rub each beet to remove the skin.
Puree 2 of the beets in a blender and set aside. This will be used in the pasta dough.
Dice the remaining beets and place in a separate bowl. You'll be using them for the sauce.
Make the pasta:
2 cups "00" flour, plus more for work surface
2 large eggs, and 1 egg yolk, beaten
Pinch of salt
2 - 3 tablespoons pureed beets
Mound flour in center of a large work surface, and make a well in the middle. Pour the eggs into the well and add the salt and 2 large tablespoons of the pureed beet.
Using a fork, beat eggs-- slowly incorporating the flour, beginning with inner rim of well. When flour is incorporated, gather dough together to form a rounded mass. Begin kneading dough with the palms of your hands. If the dough seems too stiff you can add a little more of the pureed beet. If it seems too sticky, add more flour. Once it comes together scrape up any dried bits of dough and discard them.
Lightly flour the work surface and knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic-- about 15 - 20 minutes-- and then wrap it in plastic and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
To make the fettucini begin by dividing the dough into 4 equal pieces and patting them flat. Lightly flour them and cover them with plastic wrap. Pass the first piece of dough through the widest setting a couple of times, each time folding it in thirds before rolling it through again. Then continue rolling the dough, setting the machine one step smaller with every pass until you've reach setting 6.
Attach the pasta cutter to the machine and run the lengths of dough through it. Theoretically you can lightly coat your fettucini with flour and let it rest, but we hung our strips up to dry.
Reserve any of the pureed beet you have left-- you can add it to the pasta water later to help keep the pasta from fading too much during cooking.
Make the sauce:
The remaining 4 roasted beets
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 cup crumbled roquefort cheese
chopped fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley for garnish
salt & pepper, to taste
Saute the onion, sage and garlic in the olive oil until tender. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and continue cooking to reduce by half. Add the beets, cream, stock, and salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, set a large pot of water to boil, adding a heaping teaspoon of pureed beet. Put the pasta in to cook when the sauce is ready-- it will only take about three minutes. While the pasta is cooking, turn the heat down under the sauce, and add the roquefort, stirring it to incorporate.
Drain the pasta and place in a serving bowl. Pour the sauce over and toss. Garnish with parsley and a little more cheese, if desired.