Sweet Red or Yellow Drunken Pasta
This meal combines many past favorites of mine: I've used roasted red or golden beets to make jewel-toned risottos and I've cooked pasta in red wine -- a Tuscan tradition -- and pared it with savory tastes like sausage and mushrooms. Here, the pasta is boiled in red or white wine as a tangy backdrop to the sweet beets. The beets are shredded rather than roasted, so the menu comes together fast. A tangy goat cheese salad makes the perfect side-kick.
- 2 bottles dry red wine, if using red beets, or 2 bottles dry white wine, for golden beets
- 1 1/2 pounds red or golden beets
- 3 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1 pound thick spaghetti, such as Barilla
- 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped chives, garnish
- Parmigiano Reggiano, for passing
Yields: 4 servings
Place a large pasta pot over high heat and fill it with the wine (add additional water as needed to fill it up to your normal level for preparing pasta). Salt the liquid liberally and bring it to a boil.
Clean the stem and root ends of the beets and reserve the greens to add to your salad. (Rub your hands with a little oil so the beets will not stain your hands and work on a rubber board so they don’t stain your counter.) Peel the beets with a vegetable peeler then grate them with a box grater.
Give your hands a good wash then place a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat with 3 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 3 tablespoons. When the pan is hot, add the beets and garlic, and sauté until the beets are tender, 8-10 minutes.
Once the beets go into the pan, drop your pasta into the boiling water and prepare it to al dente according to package directions. When the pasta is ready to be drained, reserve a mugful of the starchy colored cooking water and then go ahead and drain the pasta.
Add a few splashes of the reserved water to the beets and toss the pasta into the pan with them. Season everything up with salt and ground black pepper, then turn it out into a serving dish and garnish with the chopped chives. Serve this dish up with the Fried Goat Cheese Salad alongside and some Parmigiano Reggiano at the table, and enjoy!
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