Orecchiette with Beets and Peas
Roast and dice the beets up to 3 days in advance (and store covered in the fridge) to help this simple dish come together in no time.
- 2 medium golden beets
- 3 to 4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
- Sea salt, to taste
- 4 ounces white country bread, crusts removed
- 3 ounces aged goat cheese (try garrotxa), rind removed and divided
- 12 ounces orecchiette pasta
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 4 ounces crottin-style cheese (try Vermont Creamery Bijou), rind removed and cut into ¼-inch cubes
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
- Heat oven to 375°F. Rinse beets and place in a medium baking dish with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the dish. Cover dish with foil and roast 45 to 55 minutes, or until beets are easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.
- While beets are roasting, pulse bread in a food processor until crumbs form. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add breadcrumbs and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, 5 to 7 minutes, or until crumbs turn golden brown. Transfer to a small bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Finely grate 2 ounces of aged goat cheese and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook orecchiette to al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta and run under cool water to stop the cooking.
- Peel beets and cut into ¼-inch cubes. You should have about 1 cup beets.
- Wipe out the pot used for bread crumbs and add butter. Melt over medium heat, then add shallot and cook, stirring, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Return pasta to pot and toss to coat with butter-shallot mixture. Add a splash of reserved pasta water and ½ the grated cheese, then toss pasta to emulsify sauce. Repeat with more water and another ounce of cheese, tossing as the cheese melts. The pasta should be glossy and well coated. Add beets and peas and toss to combine. Cook, stirring and tossing, until vegetables are heated through and combined with pasta, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Gently stir in cubed crottin. Taste and season with salt as needed. Divide pasta among 4 bowls and top each with a generous sprinkle of breadcrumbs, chopped tarragon and chives, and shaved cheese.
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