Friday, March 12, 2010

Food Friday: beets, pasta, and the surprise goodness of the two

For my first Food Friday post, I am sharing my newest recipe that I am kind of in a shock over loving as much as I do.  In our efforts to eat sustainably, my husband and I joined a local food delivery service called Door to Door Organics.  They are in partnership with a number of local farmers, and basically allow you to have the highlights of a CSA (fresh, local, organic, and safe food) without the drawbacks of only having it part of the year, or having too much food to know what to do.  We have been having our produce delievered for the last month, and it is one of the best choices we've made food-wise in a very long time.  We love it so much we have passed on the info to quite a few of our friends, and they are all on "OMG I <3 D2D" highs too.  Seriously, if they are in your area, check them out.

One of the more unexpected benefits of signing up for this service, besides saving money on produce, is the fact that we are expanding our palates each week.  There are a lot of veggies that I have not tried before simply because I would stand in the produce section at the grocery store and intimidate myself from even touching the veggies.  I'd look an eggplant and tell it, "You're really beautiful, you are. That isn't the issue with us. I'm just afraid I'm going to commit to you and not treat you like you deserve.  Someone, someday, is going to come along and know how to treat you right. It's not you, it's me."

However, since getting our produce delivered we have tried Eggplant Pizza with mint and feta (great success), Winter Squash (acorn and butternut) soup with carrots and figs (lovely), and Beet and Spinach pasta. 

Last week, we opened our box of produce the day it was delivered and began to plan our meals for the week.  As I noticed the beets I felt the corners of my mouth turn downward and I didn't even know what to tell these poor beets- they weren't even beautiful like the eggplant. How could I break up with them here, like this, after they had come so far? Where would they go? That's when I knew, we had no choice but to try them, the poor ugly roots, they needed us to come through.  I bribed my husband with the promise of ordering pizza if this meal was in fact a complete disaster, and set out to find any beet recipe that didn't initiate a gag reflex.

Lovely people, meet my newest, and might I add prettiest, pasta recipe:
Penne with Beets, Spinach, and Goat Cheese (Adapted From Simply Organic**)

2 bunches med beets (we just used three beets)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 med onion thinly sliced
3 tbsps balsamic vinegar
2 tbsps oregano
2 tbsps chopped fresh rosemary
1 pound whole wheat penne
salt & pepper
6 oz soft goat cheese
3 oz parmesan
1 bunch spinach (we used this instead of the beet greens on the top of the beet)
Cut the greens off the beets and compost them. Trim the tops and bottoms of the beets and put the beets in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 20 minutes to 1 hour or until the beets are cooked.  I learned that beets, like potatoes, are done when they can be pierced with your fork with little resistance. When done, remove and run under cold water, using your hands to gently pull off the skins.  Cut the beets into bite sized wedges and set aside.

While the beets are cooking, wash the spinach and chop coarsely - I like how a chiffonade looks, but any form of chopped spinach would work.  Bring another pot of water to boil for the pasta.  

In a large pan or skillet, over med heat, warm the olive oil (we only used a little in the pan, so I don't know if you need then whole 1/4 c.) and add the onion and garlic.  Cook stirring occasionally, for 5 mins or until soft soft and a little carmelized. 

Add the vinegar, oregano, and rosemary and cook for 1 min, stirring to break up any brown bits.  Cook the penne  and then add the spinach during the last 1 min or so of cooking.  Drain the pasta and spinach, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water and return the pasta to the pot.  
Add the beets to the onion mixture; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Mix in the cheese, reserved pasta water, pasta, and onion/beet mixture then sprinkle with some of the parm.  

We went from two people who have scrunched our noses at beets since age 7 to two people who can't stop raving about them.  "OMG, did you know beets are sooo tasty guys?!....Did I tell you about the beet pasta I made? I used BEETS! And LIKED IT!"

**This book was a impulse buy, and it is full of total gems.  If you want to try eating locally or seasonally, buy this book! Do. It.
**This book is incredible, some of the very best recipes I have ever tried.  It's such a great resource for eating seasonally and locally. One of my proudest purchases!


  1. Julia I absolutely LOVE this recipe! I am going to try it, I'm a guru for new recipes & for fresh, organics; Thank you for sharing! Also adore your blog!

  2. Thanks Char! The recipe is delightful, and so very pretty.