Beet Pasta with Spicy Broccoli Rabe and Portobello Bacon

Last night finally I made this beet pasta.  I have been wanting to make this for awhile, and with Christmas coming this seemed like the perfect time to give it a try.  Boy am I glad I finally made it!  The colors are out of this world, and the flavor is amazing.  I love how nature provides such vibrant colors.  While mixing the pasta in with the beet sauce, I actually thought about how I’d love a lipstick the color of the beets!

Although the pasta is very red from the beets, it doesn’t have a strong beet flavor.  Beets add a subtle sweetness that pairs well with the balsamic vinegar in the sauce.  The broccoli rabe with red pepper flakes brings a spicy bitterness to the dish creating the perfect compliment to the sweet sauce.  Portobello mushroom bacon is the real star of this dish.  Most of the recipes I have seen for mushroom bacon contain liquid smoke, as I have yet to get a bottle of it, I created my recipe without it.  Instead, I punched up the spices and used a good amount of balsamic vinegar. Roasting gives the mushrooms a bacon texture, and a unique flavor.  As a last minute decision, I added roasted, salted pistachios to enhance the nutty flavor of the mushrooms and add a crunchy texture. Perfection!

I used my favorite spiral kamut pasta made by Eden Foods.  Any pasta would work, so choose your favorite and get cooking!  Originally, I wanted to make fresh beet pasta and just add the spicy broccoli rabe and portobello bacon, but there was not enough time for that, so I opted for making a sauce with the beets instead. Because I didn’t make the pasta myself this turned out to be a meal that can be put together fairly quickly.  Don’t worry, I will post a recipe for fresh beet pasta, maybe around Valentine’s day 🙂  For now, enjoy this fast, healthy and delicious dinner.

Beet Pasta with Spicy Broccoli Rabe and Portobello Bacon
vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free option (serves 4-6)

For the Beet Sauce:
1 medium beet, peeled and grated
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsps balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
black pepper, to taste

For the Spicy Broccoli Rabe:
1 bunch broccoli rabe
4 garlic cloves
2 Tbsps olive oil
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)
salt and pepper, to taste

For the Portobello Bacon:
6 portobello mushroom sliders, washed and sliced 1/2 thick
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp dried garlic
2 tsps dried oregano
3/4 tsp salt

8-10 ounces pasta of choice (use gluten-free variety if necessary)
1/4 cup pistachios, toasted and salted

Directions
1.  (Portobello bacon ingredients) Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and salt in a medium sized bowl.  Toss mushrooms in the marinade.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let marinate in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight.  Preheat the oven to 375.  Line a pan with parchment paper and spread the mushrooms over the pan.  Cook in the preheated oven for about an hour, or until the mushrooms have shrunk and are dry to the touch.

2. (Beet sauce ingredients) Add beets, garlic and oil to a pot and saute on medium heat until garlic is fragrant (about 30 seconds from the time the oil heats up).  Turn heat down to low and put a cover on.  Cook beets until tender, about 10 minutes.  Once beets are tender, add balsamic vinegar and cook another minute.

3.  (Spicy broccoli rabe ingredients) Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  In a pan, saute garlic, oil, and red pepper flakes on medium heat for 30 seconds.  Remove from heat.  Wash the broccoli rabe and cut off the bottom of the stems. Cut the remaining greens in half.  Boil for about a minute, then using a slotted spoon, add broccoli rabe to pan with sauteed garlic.  Put back on the stove on low heat and cook for 3 minutes.

4.  Cook pasta according to box instructions.  Add pasta to pot with beet sauce and toss until pasta is pink.  Mix in broccoli rabe and portobello bacon.  Garnish with toasted salted pistachios.

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