It’s been years since I’ve made this dish. The last time, someone from another dimension told me that “Beets [were] peasant food and taste[d] like dirt.” I was mad at the time because I’d just spent about an hour roasting the beets and making the meal, but now I realize that it’s true. Beets are sweet and earthy, and peasants often get to eat the most delicious things. Baked beans, barbacoa, head cheese, pot-au-feu, scrapple… So many of my favorite things. So what was meant as a snarky, backhanded comment was actually a compliment.
This is the first meal I’ve made since my surgery. Last Wednesday I went in to have my ACL reconstructed. Doing well, but it’s hard to get around and I can’t stand for a long time. But I really wanted this pasta tonight.
Drizzle oil and sprinkle salt on some beets, skin on. Wrap in foil and roast at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour. Less time if you use smaller beets, obviously. Meanwhile, set water to boil, salt it, and add pasta.
When the beets have cooked, run them under hot water and rub them to remove the skin. Cut them into half inch cubes. I used bacon fat but you can use olive oil or whatever fat you’d like. Heat a large pan and add your bacon lard/oil/etc. When it’s hot, add the beet cubes and sprinkle with salt. Add a little water and cook down. When the pasta is ready, add some of the pasta water, about 1/4 cup or so. Cook this down, season the beets with a little more salt and pepper to taste. When you’re ready to serve, finish cooking the pasta with the beets and toss it so all the noodles are coated with the beet liquids. They will become a pretty, deep magenta color. Plate the pasta, top with goat cheese (chevre), toasted pine nuts, and some fresh parsley. Fresh black pepper. The best “peasant food.”
Tonight I’m drinking a 2010 Tempranillo from Madrigal Vineyards. Yes, out of a Bonne Maman jar. Because it’s a great, jammy wine. Yeaaaaah I just did that! It’s great having this constant reminder of our first trip together.