How To Cook Beets For Use In Pasta Sauces

Beets are a seriously underrated vegetable; besides being rich in essential nutrients, this superstar veg is also pretty darn versatile. Giving salads, soups, and side dishes a fresh vibrancy, beets meet their match alongside pasta. Although you might already be acquainted with using the veggie as a base for pink pasta dough, we're of the mindset that even sauces can be made better with beets. The only question is, how should they be prepared when destined for pasta sauces?

Of the many ways to cook a beet, the choice really depends on preference. For a tender and milder-tasting veggie, boiling or steaming works best. In contrast, roasting or grilling is the way to go for added texture and sweet caramelization. Regardless of the method, the important thing to remember is that more often than not, once beets have been cooked, the easiest way to work them into a sauce is by puréeing them. Blended into a gorgeously rose-colored cream, puréed beets can easily be stirred into any base pasta sauce. They can even be the star of the show with the right ingredient pairings.

Blended beets shine in all sorts of pasta sauce options

Red, purple, and candy-striped varieties boast the most pronounced beet flavors; sweet yet slightly bitter, they tend to have a strong earthy quality that borders on metallic. In order to balance this pungency and maintain some of the wonderful colors of these root vegetables, add these puréed beets into a creamy, dairy-focused sauce. Fold them into a decadent Alfredo or anything with a base of goat's cheese, whipped ricotta, or luscious mascarpone.

Alternatively, you could also make a beet-infused marinara sauce with the purée. Both equally bright and acidic, crimson-colored beets and juicy tomatoes mellow and sweeten when simmered together over low heat. Likewise, even a ragù sauce (beef or mushroom-based) can be taken to the next level with the addition of lusciously blended beets.

To make beets less of a last-minute add-in and more of the main attraction, why not swap basil for beets in a fuchsia-hued pesto? Alternatively, you could craft a sauce of blended golden beets and pasta water with some delicious additions like an-equally-earthy sautéed kale, umami-laden toasted pine nuts, or complementary spices like rosemary or ginger.  And if puréeing isn't your thing and you crave texture instead, try chopping roasted beets into a sauce or simply grating boiled beets into whatever's slathering your fresh pasta salad — basically, there's no wrong way to use beets in pasta.