Salad by day, pasta by night.
I make beet salads throughout the year by boiling beets (both red and golden varieties, depending on what’s available) and, while the beets are still warm, dressing them with goat cheese and a balsamic vinagrette. To make the salad heartier, I toast a few baguette slices (typically frozen in the freezer specifically for this purpose) coated with olive oil and pecorino romano cheese. I particularly like the sweetness of the beets, goat cheese, and balsamic vinegar combined with the savoriness and crunchiness of the toasted croutons.
After making entree-sized portions of this salad for two, I had a few uncooked beets and a little bit of goat cheese left over, but no more mixed greens. To use up the beets and goat cheese, as well as one half of a lemon (probably left over from honey-ginger tea) and one half of an apple (the other half already consumed as fruit for oatmeal) left in the fridge, I decided to recreate some of the sweet, savory, and crunchy flavors and textures from the salad in a pasta. To prepare the beets, I removed the skins1, sliced them thinly, rubbed each slice with olive oil and salt and then roasted at 350°F for about half an hour. After the beets came out of the oven, I sliced an apple, crushed a few walnuts, and tossed everything together with rigatoni and goat cheese.
The texture at this stage turned out well—the apples and walnuts provided crunch, the beets and pasta provided substance, and the goat cheese blended the two together smoothly. But, the flavor, while sweet, was a bit flat and boring. To balance the sweetness of the apples and beets, I took a hint from the balsamic vinagrette and combined the juice from the half lemon with honey, dressed the pasta, and then grated cinnamon on top. This pasta turned out great!
1When boiling beets, I leave the skins on and then remove them after they’ve cooled because the skin comes right off. With roasting, however, I didn’t want to remove the skins from each slice, so I took them off before roasting with a peeler. In the past, I have also tried washing the beet skins and leaving them entirely for consumption; but, I don’t particularly remember anything spectacular about that experience.