I’ve been wanting to make a beet pasta dish for a while. Wholewheat pasta, glistening slices of beets, tangy sour cream and crunchy almonds. Not that I knew I would end up with this particular dish, but I’ve been daydreaming up versions of it ever since we got these perfect baby beets in our CSA box.
The first time I made a beet and sour cream pasta dish was right after I moved to Copenhagen to study. I lived in a cozy apartment with three of my friends. The place had beautiful but creaky, original wooden floors. It turns out that wooden, untreated floors and beet root do not go particularly well together (or rather, they are practically inseparable). I wonder if that spot is still there today.
The dish I made then involved chopping onions and beets to tiny pieces in the food processor, cooking them in a large pot, and when tender, mixing them with cooked pasta and a whole lot of sour cream. The result, as you can imagine, was a stunningly pink pasta dish that I quite enjoyed myself. Not so sure about the flatmates.
Seeing the beets in our box of farm vegetables made me think of that pasta again. Although the taste was near enough was I wanted to make, I thought I might update the looks a little, and I also wanted to add some crunch, and some lemon and some garlic.
I had already used the majority of the beet greens (cauliflower pizza!), but about a handful of greens remained, along with all the stems and the beets themselves. I was charmed by the idea of using each part of the beet in the same dish because I thought it would be nice to have nuances of the same flavor in different textures. Or maybe I have just watched too many episodes of top chefs cooking ‘carrots three ways’. Let’s go with the first option.
I began by cooking the beets, chopping up garlic, almonds, and beet stems, and tearing the beet greens in smaller pieces. When the beets were tender, I rubbed the skin of them with my hands (if you haven’t yet, try it, it’s fun!). Then, while I cooked the pasta, and with the beets still warm, I sliced them in thin slices on the mandolin (oh beets) and dressed them in olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
Then I sautéed the garlic, beet stems and almonds in a bit of olive oil. Right before this was finished I added the beet greens and some lemon zest. I put the pasta on a plate and arranged the dressed beet slices on top. Then followed a dollop of sour cream, and finally the beet stem topping.
I savored every bite of this. It was like an adult version of the crazy-pink pasta of my youth. Instead of being monotone, was full of colored and textured surprises in every mouthful.
Wholewheat Pasta with Beets, Sour Cream and Almonds
- 200 gram whole wheat pasta
- 250 gram beets (6 baby beets)
- stems from the beets
- a handful beet greens
- 12 almonds (raw)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 1/2 lemon (zest)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- olive oil
Cook the beets in enough water to cover them, for 20 minutes, or until they slip right off the sharp knife you poke them with.
While the beets are cooking, get your pasta water boiling (with a bit of salt), cut the beet stems in ½ cm pieces, roughly chop the almonds, finely chop the garlic, zest and juice the lemon, and tear the beet greens.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until it’s tender, then drain and set aside. While the pasta is cooking, rub the skin of the beets with your thumbs, thinly slice the beets (on a mandolin or with a sharp knife), and dress them in about a teaspoon each of olive oil and lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a small pot. Add beet stems, garlic and almonds and cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Be careful not to let the garlic burn. When the beet stems are tender and the almonds are crispy, stir in the beet greens and lemon zest and cook for another 30 seconds.
Assemble the plates. Start with the pasta, then add the dressed beets followed by a teaspoon of sour cream for each plate. Then add the beet stem topping, and the dish is ready. Serve and enjoy!