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The Incredible Redness of Beets [Fierce Foodie]

My dad always enjoyed plain boiled red beets as a side dish at dinner. He was diabetic for many years, and beets were one of the few sweet pleasures in life that he was not forced to forgo. Until I started cooking red beets for myself, I was unaware of quite how much redness they actually produce. Pickled beets and canned beets you pick up at the store have lost most of their stain producing capacity. But boil some raw beets at home and you might as well dye a king size set of white sheets while you are at it. The idea may briefly cross your mind as you pour out what looks like a vat of fuchsia-red dye.

Even if you have no inclination to start an all natural fabric dye cottage industry from home, you can still enjoy the sweetness of beets. Beets combined with garlic and rosemary and chicken broth form the basis of a great pasta dish, which I have adapted from the one given by Laurie Colwin in her amazing and delicious book, Home Cooking. I am not fond of angel hair pasta, so I used macaroni, and instead of Parmesan, I tried feta cheese crumbled on top. Both are delicious.

There is one thing, however, that no one likes to mention about beets. I am going to mention it, mainly because some of you may never have had fresh beets before and are unaware of their amazing reddening power. So I will warn you: when you go to the bathroom after eating fresh beets, don’t panic. You are not bleeding internally. There is nothing wrong with you. Everything, and I mean everything, will come out startlingly red and pink for a little while, and that’s okay. It’s a small price to pay for sweet, delicious beets.

Beets with Pasta
from Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin

  • 4-6 medium beets, peeled and finely diced (I boil mine whole first but it is not required)
  • 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 (I used dried rosemary and very much enjoyed it)
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1-3 chopped tomatoes (optional)
  • 1/2 pound pasta (I used macaroni, she used angel hair)
  • freshly grated Parmesan or crumbled feta 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 cheese.  Yum!

Featured image credit: Avital Pinnick