Pasta with Beets and Spring Onions

Returning from the farmer’s market Saturday, laden with more produce than I needed, (but unable to resist this innate urge to “gather”), I felt a sort of obligation to create something spectacular to do justice to this beautiful pile of produce in my kitchen. 

In the process, I remembered a recipe from Laurie Colwin for a beet pasta she loved and began to thumb through “More Home Cooking” to find it.

Many of you may be familiar with Laurie Colwin.  In the late ‘80’s, Laurie wrote two books on cooking, food and her life in the kitchen (Home Cooking and More Home Cooking).  Both books were a collection of essays that charmingly chronicled her love of cooking at its most basic, honest and simple.  Her books have been an absolute inspiration to me over the years, and I’ve turned to them often as a reminder of what matters most to me about being in the kitchen.

Laurie died of a heart attack in 1992 at the age of 48 and the foodies of the world lost a witty, creative and talented friend.  I think of Laurie as the first food blogger ever.  She was "blogging" long before most of us even had  internet in our homes, but her essays read like the best blog material you can imagine.  She was so smart and so funny and her recipes rock.  I can only imagine how she would have loved to have been a part of all of this.

So in honor of Laurie, I took my beautiful spring onions and spring beets and made her beet pasta, and it was absolutely amazingly delicious. 

I took a few liberties with her recipe, but I think she would have enjoyed that.  I swapped out the red onion and garlic for my beautiful spring onions, and instead

of the angel hair pasta, I used a wonderful imported spaghetti.  I also chopped

up some of the beet greens instead of herbs.  Instead of the grated parmesan, I used feta cheese (because I love beets with feta).  Although I liked the feta cheese, I very quickly wished I had grated up some ricotta salata instead.  Oh, that would have been so perfect.  Next time.

I’m going to give you Laurie’s recipe as she wrote it out, and I do hope you’ll make it.  You could make it as written, you could make the substitutions I did, or you could make it your own.  I think she would have liked that.

Beets with Angel Hair Pasta

Printable Recipe

from More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin

4-6 medium beets, finely diced

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 red onion, minced

fresh herbs, whatever you have

crushed red pepper flakes

1-3 chopped tomatoes (optional)

1/2 pound angel hair pasta

freshly grated Parmesan for serving

Put beets and olive oil in large skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until just tender. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add broth and simmer until beets are very tender. Add remaining ingredients except pasta and cheese. Boil pasta, top with beet mixture and serve with lots of grated Parmesan.

This recipe is delicious as is, but here are my substitutions:  spaghetti instead of angel hair, spring onions chopped instead of the garlic and red onion, chopped beet greens instead of the herbs, and feta cheese instead of parmesan (but next time I'll try ricotta salata).  Enjoy!