Roasted Beet Pesto and Greens Pasta Toss

A DELICIOUS, ANTIOXIDANT-RICH BEET PESTO RECIPE THAT IS GOOD FOR YOU AND YOUR WALLET! IF THE MAGENTA PINK HUE HASN’T DRAWN YOU ALREADY, I PROMISE THE TASTE WILL!

WHY SO SHY?

Just like cilantro, I feel most people either love or hate beets. Some say they simply taste like dirt. Others find them too messy. I can see both sides to this. Yes, beets have an earthy taste, but why not try them with herbs and spices. Or better yet, using garlic like I did here in the beet pesto. And yes, beets can cause pink stains making it look like a Law & Order scene in your kitchen.  Those purple hands you are left with are not permanent and naturally will fade with proper hand washing. If you prefer to remove beet stains faster, they can easily be removed with lemon juice, as mentioned in this article on leaf tv.com.

THIS ROOT VEGETABLE FAVORITE CAN’T BE “BEET”!

Yes, I had to do it. Forget the taste and stains, now comes the hard decision. How do you want to cook them? Beets can be steamed, boiled, and even eaten raw. The most popular version, however, is roasted beets. Roasting brings out the best flavor and natural sweetness of beets. The length of time to cook this root vegetable can be 45 minutes to over an hour. Picturing this for a weekday meal after a busy workday seems like torture. I hear you. Try including beets for a weekend meal prep to shorten the cooking time for a meal. I roasted mine the night before I made the pasta dish. Not only did it make the recipe preparation easier, I also had some free time to prep for my morning breakfast.  Check out this fantastic article from The Kitchn for basics on roasting beets; hint hint no peeler needed!

BUDGET-FRIENDLY BEET PESTO

Beautiful color. Check. Tasty and Versatile. Check. Costs under three dollars a serving. Check!

While many of us are joining the fight to prevent food waste, others are working their hardest to save money on food for their families. When trying to save money, the cheap and processed food items are usually the chosen alternative. Fear not. Choosing seasonal and even local produce can save you dollars. As mentioned in a previous post, retailers are starting to sell “ugly” produce for much less in their stores. In addition to seasonal produce, buying frozen produce can help you save. Frozen produce is usually picked at its peak meaning all of the beneficial nutrients included.  Thinking about including almonds in your breakfast cereal? Buy foods such as nuts, beans, whole grains, and dried fruits in bulk. Lastly and most important, try not to go to the grocery store on an empty stomach. This really works!

The estimated total spent on this meal per serving was $1.80 for a household of four. This recipe made a lot of pasta and can be divided into six servings (making it even cheaper!). There was also extra beet pesto as I did not mix all of it in with the pasta. Try the extra pesto on crackers or topped over your favorite protein or roasted vegetables! This price per serving can also not be beet!

Roasted Beet Pesto and Greens Pasta Toss

Ingredients

  • 16 oz whole wheat pasta
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water from boiling
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-4 cups (loosely packed) beet greens or other mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, unsalted (save half for the pesto)

    Beet Pesto:
  • 1 lb beets, roasted or steamed, chopped
  • 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh sage or thyme
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • emaining half of pumpkin seeds, unsalted (can substitute for other seeds or nuts)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions

  1. Heat a large pot of water to boiling and cook the pasta until al dente (10 minutes or more). Save a cup of pasta water. Return the drained pasta to the pot with the heat off.
  2. While the pasta cooks, prepare the pesto in a food processor (or as batches in a high powered blender if necessary). Set aside.
  3. With about 5 minutes left for the pasta, heat olive oil in a non-stick pan or skillet on medium hight heat. Sautee the pumpkin seeds for 1-3 minutes. Then add the greens and cook until wilted, 3-5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  4. Add in portions of the pesto and greens to the pot of pasta and stir to combine with tongs or a pasta fork. Add in as much pesto to your liking (you will have extra). Use as much of the reserved pasta water as you prefer to make a thinner sauce.
  5. Top with more cheese and pumpkin seeds, optional.

Notes

*If you do not have fresh sage or thyme, feel free to use the dried version. I recommend decreasing to 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herbs. 


Kathryn Pfeffer-Scanlan MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and recent transplant to Boulder, CO. After working as an inpatient dietitian for almost five years in Boston, she is expanding her expertise in the health and wellness industry. Katie is passionate about cooking and food photography, sharing her culinary adventures on her food blog, One Hungry Bunny, and exploring her new Rocky Mountain surroundings. Follow Katie on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.