Over the weekend I went to go visit family and meet my Aunt and Uncle's new puppy. They have a nice bit of property outside of Sacramento. It was absolutely beautiful, but oh so hot.
Our visit was in need of a quick and simple meal that would also help celebrate the occasion. This penne pasta with tomato and beet sauce is a great party dish. You could make the sauce the day before in less than an hour and keep it in the fridge. The day of the party add a quick salad and some pasta and you have a great vegetarian friendly meal in less than a half an hour. I love quick dinner party recipes!
For the penne with beat and tomato sauce:
- 1 packet of penne
- Sprig of fresh rosemary
- 4 small beets
- 1 onion
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 15-oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce
- Large pack of goat cheese to crumble over
- 2 tbsp of fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
Place the beets in a small pot and cover with water. You want the water just above the beets so they are always submerged, but you also want to use a limited amount of water. If you use too much water the flavor will not be as rich. Bring the beets to a boil and then let them simmer for roughly 20 minutes. Keep checking on the beets to make sure the water doesn't evaporate. If the water level drops feel free to add a little more.
While the beets are cooking, start caramelizing the onions. Don't worry about making them pretty because you will end up putting them in the blender or food processor. Add the olive oil to a sauce pan and add the sliced onions, cook for 40 minutes. While they are cooking add the rosemary, salt and pepper. Remove the rosemary sprig at the end. If you like you can pull off the leaves and add them to the sauce.
While the beets are cooling and the onions are caramelizing start cooking the pasta. This could also be done in the beginning. Save some of the past water.
After the beets are done simmering, remove their skins. You can save the water which should be bright red and very sweet. Add the beats, onions, dijon mustard and marinara sauce to a blender or food processor. After the mixture is smooth feel free to adjust the thickness with pasta water. Apply the sauce to the pasta in a large bowl for mixing. Don't feel like you need to use all the sauce. I found that I could have saved some for a smaller batch and if you loosen the mixture with pasta sauce you should have even more left over. Of course you are always welcome to use all the sauce in one batch.
When serving garnish with crumbled goat cheese and chopped parsley. The dish is best served warm, but its not bad cold. We paired this dish with some left over steak, orange lemonade with mint and arugula salad with walnuts, apples and prosciutto.
And the best part was I got to see my little girl! She is about 17 years old now. She makes me sad a lot of the time because she isn't quite all there, but her nose still works! Nanny is my bundle of love.
My father and I came up with this recipe based on his previous knowledge of basic tomato pasta sauces and my new found obsession with beets.