For those of you keeping score at home we try to use fresh, local ingredients whenever possible and winter is no exception. With a generous gift of tasty beets from our friend Nette’s CSA we decided to recreate a pasta favorite of ours. Inspired by a dish at Locale, a great Italian joint in Astoria, this gorgonzola and beet bonanza is the definition of “not light fare,” but what it lacks in subtlety is braggadociously made up for by it’s sweet/earthy/tangy flavor.
Equipment Needed: 3 QT Pot, Wooden Spoon, Frying Pan, Chef’s Knife, Cutting Board, Cheese Grater, Vegetable Peeler, Colander
Serving Suggestion: Individual Plating
Suggested Wine Pairing: Riesling, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo
Suggested Beer Pairing: Pale Ales, Witbiers, Brown Ales
- 1 lb gemelli pasta ($1.50/lb)
- 1 medium onion ($0.99/lb)
- 1 large red beet ($1.99/lb)
- 2 C milk ($1.19/QT)
- 6 oz gorgonzola cheese ($7.99/lb)
- 1/2 C walnut halves (about $9/lb)
- 3 TBSP butter, divided ($4.99/lb)
- 2 TBSP honey ($4.39/12 oz)
- 1 TBSP brown sugar ($1.39/lb)
- 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar (about $6/17 oz bottle)
- 1/3 C flour ($1.89/2 lbs)
- 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil ($9.99/32 oz)
- Before you start any cooking, dice your onion, mince your garlic, mince your walnuts and peel and shred your beet; this will save you time later.
- Fill one of your pots about 3/4 full of water and put it over medium heat. Bring it to a boil and throw in about a palmful of salt. Add the pasta and a splash of olive oil, stirring occasionally to prevent clumping. Cook for about 5-8 minutes until it’s soft but still has a little bite to it (a.k.a. al dente).
- While the pasta is cooking put the frying pan over medium heat and throw in 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the onions and garlic with a healthy dash of salt and pepper and cook them down for about 5 minutes. Once they’ve softened add the honey, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Stir everything up so it’s mixed well and drop the heat on your burner to low. Stir occasionally and let those puppies caramelize while you continue to prepare everything else.
- When your pasta is cooked drain it. At this point you should either grab another pot or just set your pasta aside for a few minutes while you reuse the pasta pot.
- Put your pot back over medium heat and put in the other 2 tablespoons of butter. Once it’s melted, add about 1/4C of flour and stir thoroughly to start your roux (the thickening base for many sauces). Cook this until it’s a golden brown and stir in the milk.
- At this point stir in the gorgonzola until it’s melted then add your beets to the mix. Mix together and toss the pasta back in the pot. Stir to coat everything evenly, add the caramelized onions and walnuts, stirring again to distribute. Serve with good bread and/or a light salad.