Brown Butter Beets with Orecchiette, Ricotta, and Pistachios

I was walking through the farmers market the other week when I spotted a stall selling beautiful, round, plump beets.  Usually beets at the market are on the small side – still bursting with flavor, don’t get me wrong, but not the big, juicy ones.  These were the big juicy ones.  I ran over and bough 4 bunches, confident I would find a way to use them throughout the week.  Imagine my excitement when I came across Melissa Clark’s article for a pasta recipe with brown butter, beets, ricotta, and pistachios.

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The toasty aromas of brown butter, lovely pink hue that takes over the pasta, orange-zest infused ricotta, and crunchy green pistachios make this dish not only delicious to consume, but a pleasure to cook and to set in front of guests.

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Melissa Clark’s Brown Butter Beets with Orecchiette, Ricotta, and Pistachios
Servings: 4-5         Cooktime: 30-40 minutes

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta
1/4 tsp orange zest (or more to taste)
1 1/2 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 1/4 tsp salt, plus more for water
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 pounds beets, peeled and finely grated or chopped
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
3/4 pound orecchiette pasta
1/2 cup parmesan
1/4 cup roasted, unsalted pistachios, chopped
Directions
Mix ricotta, orange zest, sage, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.  Let come to room temperature while prepping and cooking the rest of the dish.
Heat a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.
Brown 5 Tbsp of butter in a very hot sauté pan. Once it has turned into a dark hazelnut color and produces a toasty aroma, add beets.  Stir to coat, add a bit of salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Stir in vinegar.
While the beets are cooking, add orecchiette to the boiling water.  Cook until al dente.  Drain, but reserve 1/3 cup of liquid.  Combine pasta, parmesan, reserved cooking liquid, and 1 Tbsp of butter.  Toss well.  Mix in the beet mixture.
Dollop spoonfuls of ricotta on top of pasta and sprinkle generously with pistachios.  Serve immediately.
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Pictures by the lovely and talented Anna Powell Teeter.
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