Beets are a bit like cilantro, and by that I mean totally polarizing. But if you love them, you love them—its sweet and earthy umami magic is unrivaled. And because the wonders of plant-based cooking never cease, an unexpected way to prepare beets may just allow you to incorporate them into your diet more often. In the latest episode of Cook With Us, wellness and compassion activist Haile Thomas, author of the Living Lively, shares a recipe for creamy beet pasta that'll transform your next noodle night.
"This is a really great way to get in your beets, which are extremely nutritious, nourishing, and heart healthy," says Thomas, whose interest in plant-based cooking grew from watching dietary changes cure her father's type 2 diabetes.
This pasta itself isn't made from beets; for the noodle base, Thomas instead relies on good-old spaghetti. She opts for a gluten-free version, but you can grab whatever suits you best, whether it's traditional, chickpea-, lentil-, brown rice-, or other-based. The beets are then blended into a sauce with lots of antioxidant garlic and protein-packed almonds, which is designed to smother that spaghetti good.
Thomas doesn't stop there, however. To pack the pasta with an even more nutrient-dense punch, she tops it with a garlicky greens mixture comprised of mushrooms, beet greens, herbs, and arugula. "[Beet] greens are so delicious but also incredibly high in calcium and great for brain health and so, overall, you're getting in a really nice boost," says Thomas.
The result is a "pink explosion" pasta topped with flavorful veggies that's a little fanciful and a lot filling. "Such a fun pasta to make—I just love the vibrancy of it," she says. "And it's a really quick way to switch up your weeknight or weekend dinner." Press play to make yourself, friends, or loved ones a meal that can't be... beet!
Creamy beet pasta with garlicky greens
Makes 4 servings
For the beet pasta and sauce:
2 large red beets, greens attached
1⁄2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Pinch of kosher salt
1 lb. gluten-free spaghetti
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup raw slivered almonds
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried parsley
For the mushrooms and greens:
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 1⁄2 heaping cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps
1 cup sliced spinach
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Pine nuts (optional)
1. To make the beet sauce: Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Cut the beet tops off and slice one cup of the greens for this recipe and reserve the rest for another delicious use. Peel the beets and roughly cut them into chunks. Place them on a sheet pan and drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat them. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, turning halfway through with a spatula, until the beets are tender.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
4. In a food processor, combine the garlic and almonds and pulse until the almonds are a fine meal and the garlic is minced. Add the roasted beets, a half cup olive oil, vinegar, one teaspoon kosher salt, oregano, and parsley and pulse into a smooth sauce. Set aside.
5. To make the mushrooms and greens: In a medium skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until soft and juicy, about five minutes. Add the reserved sliced beet greens and the spinach and cook, stirring, for two to three minutes, ensuring the greens aren’t fully wilted. Season with the salt, oregano, garlic powder, and pepper and mix to combine. Cover and set aside over low heat.
6. Toss the pasta in the beet sauce and top with greens and mushrooms. Sprinkle with pine nuts (if using). Serve hot.
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