Monday, August 22, 2011

Saffron Linguini With Herb-Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese

Do you ever think about what you would want your last meal to be?  Or what you would choose if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?  Yeah me neither.  Tee-Hee

No really, I think about what I would choose if someone asked me to pick my favorite meal.  Depending on the season, last night's dinner would make the top five list.  If you were to define me by the food I most enjoyed putting into my mouth, this would be a pretty good start.  Everything about it had my name written all over it.

First of all, let me show you what came home with me from the farmer's market this morning.

The kids devoured the carrots and peaches, so those never made it to our dinner plates.

Second, let me tell you about this recipe.  I ripped it out of the newspaper ages ago.  It's been in my recipe accordion file for as long as I can remember. The saffron was the main thing holding me back.  Have you ever bought it?  It's sooooo expensive.  Yeah well, in the regular grocery stores anyway.  But I'll let you in on a little secret that I recently discovered.  There's a small Lebanese-owned market by our house with all kinds of fun things in it.  That's where I found the fig jam for a song.  I also found a bag of saffron there for under $2.  Uh-huh!  Word on the street is, Asian markets sell it super cheap as well.  So if you have a pile of recipes you've been putting off because of the saffron, head out to an ethnic grocery store.

Now, for those of you who think I ramble too much and scroll through all the text, here's the recipe for an amazingly delicious pasta, with my notes:

Saffron Linguini With Herb-Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese

Makes 2 servings (I doubled everything for the four of us)

3/4 pound small red beets, scrubbed (I used a mix of colors - alternatively, you could use canned whole beets and shorten the roasting time.)
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic, peeled
6 peppercorns

1 generous pinch saffron
3/4 C hot water
1/2 C thinly sliced shallots
1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces dried linguini
2 Tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 C finely chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
Zest of 1/2 lemon
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

To make beets:  
 Preheat oven to 425.  
Cut the beets to make them equal in size (about the size of a small lime).  
Place in a small baking dish (just large enough to hold the beets), add olive oil and toss beets until well-covered in oil.  

 I also threw in one of the heads of garlic from the market at this point, just for the sake of having a head of roasted garlic in the fridge.

 Cover dish tightly with foil, and roast for 40 minutes.
Remove pan from oven, remove foil and add bay leaf, thyme sprigs, garlic cloves and peppercorns; stir beets, re-cover with foil and bake until a paring knife can easily be inserted into the largest beet, about 20 minutes longer.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, slip their skins off with your fingers; reserve the roasting oil. 

Cut the beets into small bite-sized pieces, set aside.
(Beets can be roasted up to 2 days in advance.  Store in an airtight container until ready to use.)

To make pasta: 
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
 Combine the saffron and hot water; set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining reserved oil used to roast the beets in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
Add the shallots and thyme and saute until the shallots are tender, about 3 minutes.
Add the beets and saute until they are just heated through, about 3 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. 
Cover and keep warm over low heat.

Add pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, 8 minutes.
Return the pot to medium heat and add the butter.
When the butter has melted, add the minced garlic, parsely and lemon zest. 
Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
Add the hot pasta and saffron-water mixture, toss with tongs to combine.
(I did not use the entire doubled amount of water.)

Divide the pasta among 2 shallow bowls and sprinkle with the goat cheese.
Place a heap of the beets in the center of each bowl and serve.

I made a salad of mixed greens, sliced gala apple and candied nuts to go with the pasta.
And bread, of course.

Here's dinner on my plate:


"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating."  Luciano Pavarotti


  1. look at the colour on those beets! mmmmmm..... looks... soooo... gooodd! Its a really good think that I have almost all of that in my pantry!!!!! I have been so waiting for this.... it is perfection!

  2. Oh yeah! I love, love, love beets and never thought to have them with pasta. Thanks for adding to my ever-growing list of things to make. :)


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