I think about beets a lot, partially because I love the lyrical sound of the word in Italian: Barbabietole. I can say it over and over again: Bar-ba-bi-e-to-le. Partially because I love the playful sound of the word in Spanish: Remolacha. (“Come here my little remolacha.”) And partially because I like Michael Jackson’s song, Beet it: Just Beet It, Beet It, Beet It. It Doesn’t Matter Who’s Wrong Or Right. Just Beet It, Beet It…
I also think about beets a lot because I grew up hating them, believing that they came only from a can. (Foul.) But beets don’t need to be that way. In fact, fresh beets, roasted in the oven with a little olive oil (until they are very well done, in my humble opinion), make a delicious addition to pasta. So try it: Barbabietole. Remolachas. Just Beet it!
p.s. Check out our wine pairings to complement this dish.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the top greens and the roots of the beets. Scrub with a vegetable brush to remove any lose dirt. Cut the top greens into 2 inch widths and wash well. Set aside. Cut the beets into halves or quarters, depending on their size (about 1/2-inch, bite-sized pieces).
Place the beets on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until the beets are well done.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, and add the and garlic. When golden, add the greens (and spinach) and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook until wilted.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain it, retaining 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the beets along with the reserved cooking water and cook together for about a minute.
Serve immediately with sprinkle of Parmigiano.
I prefer to use a larger number of small beets, if you can find them. They can then be cut into halves.