I think that beets are one of the most underrated vegetables. I grew up with them and would have to say it was not my most favorite and probably ended up in some of our house plant pots. But as time goes on and we start to develop our taste buds, things we don't like, such as brussels sprouts, turnips, etc, start to be more appealing. Maybe it is our continuing growth in our culinary preparation, and creativity, that enhances the flavors of these particular things. We have grown immensely in cooking and flavors have become layers of tastes and deliciousness.
Our neighbor had a plentiful garden this year as many had experienced. A very warm spring and lots of sunshine, thanks to water reserve as there was not a lot of rain in our region, we were able to keep plants alive and productive. From this crop of vegetables our neighbor Connie gave us some beets, Nicoletta always cringes a bit when hearing beets, but my creative mind and my desire to convert her relationship with beets to a more responsive than repulsive drove me to create this recipe.
Pasta is a dish that we could eat everyday. It can be as simple as spaghetti aglio e olio, or something more complex like a carbonara, or pasta alla Norma. Today I envisioned a nice pasta with some fresh ingredients like the homegrown beets and some from the Strathcona's farmers market. The beets I blended with garlic, onions and herbs such as parsley, basil, rosemary, and oregano, bathed in extra virgin olive oil a dusting of salt and pepper, then roasted in the oven bringing them such a savory somewhat sweet caramelized flavor I was almost tempted to eat them like candy. Not to mention that flavor of roasted garlic smooth, sweet, robust, which just mingles so well with the flavor of the beets.
The pasta, a nice fusilli with all those swirls which just are taste pockets for the vegetables and oil. Cooked nice and al dente which Italians always stress is the only way to eat pasta or risotto. I agree having experienced the full spectrum of pasta cooking, I have to say that when pasta is overcooked it is very hard on my digestive system, and I feel so full, but when cooked just right, it feels so light to eat a plate of pasta and digestion occurs quite quickly and naturally. Imagine that, something that tastes good and feels good too an amazing beautiful thing to me!
Onions sauteing to a nice translucency, in a vibrant olive oil, in go some rich ripe red grape tomatoes, the pasta bubbling away in salted boiling water, in go the roasted beets and herbs, the pasta just right drained and into the pan, a nice snowing of parmigiano, kitchen sounds of pans clanging and pasta tossing, plate washing, mmmmms that tastes so good, a few songs, a sip of wine, some hugs and kisses to my beautiful wife, plating and a final dusting of parmigiano reggiano and fresh parsley and of course a splashing of extra virgin olive oil, and pronto! Which means ready in Italian.
There you have it: Fusilli with roasted beets and tomatoes.
The smooth flavor of the roasted beets and garlic, the freshness of the ever so slightly cooked tomatoes, an edginess of the parmigiano and the earthiness of the olive oil make this pasta dish one that I will remember and make often again when beets are in season.