Purple Pesto

Beetroot pesto behaves like paint (which may be why I like it so much…). The flavor is smoky and earthy with toasted walnuts. Beets are moist, so they don’t require a ton of additional oil in the pesto (unlike herb-based varieties of pesto.) They also play nicely with a variety of herbs – basil, cilantro and parsley all work well.

I never ate beets on a regular basis until we started getting them in our box from the Green Grocer. There are so many reasons why I love my produce box. Let me count the ways…I love my produce box because the contents challenge me to cook closer to the seasons and the box brings foods to the table that I would not naturally gravitate toward.

Beets are a perfect example. I never really ate beets growing up, and I think it’s because I don’t really care for the texture of sliced beets. But I’ve grown to love the color and the flavor, so I’ve come up with a workaround on the texture bit.

This week we received a bundle of said beets, and I was more than pleased to find the greens intact! I started by trimming the greens – leaving just a quarter inch of stem above the bulb of the beetroot.

Then, I washed the beets, pulled out a baking sheet, lined it with parchment paper and placed the cut beet bulbs onto the parchment.

Next I sprinkled some Balsamic Vinegar onto the beets and stuck them in oven for an hour at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brilliant smells and sixty minutes later, these very cooked beauties came out. (In theory, you could flip them half way through the cooking, but I didn’t even bother.)

At this point, I had to make a critical decision. Go at the beets with my hands (and risk an intense stain of pinkish purple on my fingers) or choose the civilized route of peeling away the skin with utensils.

Today, I chose the utensils…

Look at the rings inside the beets!

There, all peeled.

Next, I toasted a bunch of walnuts (could be a cup, could be two… it’s really up to you!)

I started talking with a friend… and there for a second… I forgot to watch the walnuts!

Whoops. I burnt ‘em. Oh well. They still smell good!

There is no abundance of walnuts in my house, so I went ahead with confidence and threw them into the food processor with the beets and a little more Balsamic Vinegar.

After a few pulses, I added some salt, a few cloves of garlic and some fresh basil (cilantro is great here). I didn’t even need to add any olive oil! (Though if you want to drizzle this pesto, you may want to add oil to bring it to your desired consistency.)

A few more food-processor-pulses later and the purple pesto was complete!

Purple pesto is great on toast (fun for appetizers!), in pasta, in lentils or quinoa, drizzled into soups… the possibilities are truly endless!

Oh, and if you live in the city of Chicago, you should really check out the produce boxes at the Green Grocer. They make living in our neighborhood a treat!

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  • http://www.designingmyday.com designingmyday

    Lovely, just lovely. I keep coming back to look at the photo of the beet rings, with hints of knife and fork coming in at the sides. There is something beautiful and violent about that photo.nnPesto made of two of my favorite ingredients–fresh beets and toasted walnuts. We are having out-of-town guests next week, and I must give this a try. Here’s another beet-and-walnut dish you might enjoy: http://www.designingmyday.com/2011/01/eat-your-salad-first.htmlnnAnd thank you for following us on twitter! @AmateurBakersnn/Jacqueline

  • http://www.ordinaryvegetarian.com Sarah S.

    Simply wonderful!