Beets, yes beets! Okay, I know I’m in the minority when it comes to getting excited about this hearty and gorgeous vegetable. But keep in mind my love affair with beets is fairly recent. I grew up eating plenty of beets; but they were the kind out of a can which were soft and mushy. My mother would slice them up, add some salt, vinegar and oil, and present it as a salad with dinner. I was pretty neutral about them. It took a lot of wading in beet territory and some sincere beet knowledge before I could even think about adding them back into my life. Poor beets, I did you wrong.
Once I started experimenting with beets again I discovered something very quickly; that I didn’t really like the flavor of raw beets….except when they were fermented. Fermenting seemed to mellow out the sweetness and bitterness, making beets somewhat savory in the process. Fermenting also increases the friendly bacteria count and nutritional values, lowers the sugar content, and softens the texture, making beets easier to use. After some trial and error, I turned my raw beets into delicious pasta that I really really enjoy. I love vegetable pasta dishes Cucumber Pasta but using beets for pasta was a new one for me. Of course beets deserve to take center stage.
Beets or beta vulgarisare are cold weather root vegetables that have long seasons, grow quickly, and survive frost and almost freezing temperatures. They are also fairly easy to grow which is why they are available most of the year. Beets include many varieties such as white, red and yellow although red is the variety found in most stores. Each variety offers a subtle difference in taste and texture. I’ve had the white, yellow and red variety and each one had its own beautiful soul.
The best news about beets though is what a powerhouse of nutrients they are. Beets contain potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine and folic acid, as well as high levels of boron which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones. Seems that beets are nature’s Viagra. Beets are also very cleansing (especially for the liver), aid in weight loss, are a great source of natural energy, and contain natural nitrous which increases blood flow especially to the brain. I think we definitely need to eat more beets.
For this recipe I trimmed and peeled fresh raw beets then used a spiralizer to turn them into gorgeous red pasta. A spiralizer is a handy kitchen gadget that instantly turns solid vegetables into pasta. It’s inexpensive to boot and is one of my most used tools. But you can use any pasta cutting tool you want.
It’s a messy job but fun. I wore disposable gloves when spiralizing because the beet juice is like ink…..it runs. Glorious beets, live on. By the way, before commercial make-up, women used beet juice to redden their lips and cheeks. Instant natural glow.
Once the beets were spiralized I gently massaged with a little sea salt then tossed with vinegar and pepper, and transferred to a glass jar for fermenting. The jar was sealed and left on the counter for 2 days. I occasionally “burped” the jar to keep the pressure from building up. After two days, I had al dente style probiotic-rich beet pasta with a mild pickled flavor. It was beet pasta love at first bite.
To balance out the strong beet flavors, I tossed them in a rich savory sage-infused mushroom gravy. Fresh uncooked gravies like this one and my Mushroom Au Jus were such a revelation when I first made them. They are breeze to make, and so creamy and delicious you won’t miss the canned versions. Just plunk the ingredients in the blender and blend away. It’s perfect gravy every time and ready to serve in a heartbeat.
I served the pasta dish with my European Dark Rye Bread and a few chopped fermented vegetables for an all around sensational meal. I think the probiotics were literally off the chart on this one. I especially loved how the sauce, when tossed with the beets, took on soft pink tones which gave this dish additional eye appeal. Okay so that’s just me but I do love the gorgeous mauve/pink shade sitting there on my plate. Of course you don’t have to toss before serving and you’ll have vibrant red pasta with your delicious mushroom gravy.
Earthy, intense and extremely nourishing; this meal delivers on so many levels. I hope you’ll get as excited about beets as I now do and try this bold and beautiful dish.
This recipe is raw, dairy and gluten-free, and serves 2 – 4 persons.
Fermented Beet Pasta w/Creamy Sage Mushroom Gravy
Fermented Beet Pasta:
I suggest fermenting for a good 48 hours although you can go as little as 8 hours but I suggest no less than that. You can also ferment them longer too (up to 2 weeks). The pickled flavor increases over time and the beets become a bit softer although they will still be al dente.
- 5 – 6 medium-sized beets or similar amount in other sizes
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper (optional)
- Trim and peel the beets. Make sure they are flat and even on the ends.
- Use the attachment for thin pasta on your spiralizer.
- Press the beets securely into the back spike.
- Spiralize, keeping the beet firmly in place. To make it a little easier for me, I rotate my beets about halfway through to make sure the smoothest side is facing the teeth of the crank handle. Press firmly and evenly while spiralizing.
- Repeat this process with each beet.
- When finished spiralizing, add the beets to a mixing bowl.
- Sprinkle with the sea salt and massage for a few minutes until the beets starts to wilt.
- Add the vinegar and pepper (if using) and toss well.
- Transfer to glass jars (I use 2 – 3 quart-sized mason jars with the canning lids), leaving some room at the top to allow gasses and liquids to escape.
- Seal the jars with air tight canning lids.
- Place on the counter for 8 hours to 2 days to ferment. The length of time determines how “pickled” it will be.
- When ready, serve immediately or store refrigerated.
- Yields 4 – 5 cups.
- Can be stored refrigerated up to 2 weeks.
Creamy Sage Mushroom Gravy:
- The white wine in the gravy is optional but really adds a nice punch. Other options are non-alcholic white wine or just plain water.
- This recipe can be halved.
- 1 cup sliced white or brown mushrooms
- 1 1/4 cups raw cashews
- 2 – 3 large fresh sage leaves
- 1/4 cup white wine or water
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp minced dried onion pieces or 1/2 tsp ground onion powder
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 1/4 tsp sea salt or to taste
- 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp ground white pepper
- Add all ingredients except the 1/2 cup of chopped sliced mushrooms to a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Transfer to a container and stir in the remaining sliced mushrooms.
- Set aside or refrigerate in a sealed container until ready to use. You can warm the sauce if you want or simply blend until desired warmth before stirring in the sliced mushrooms.
- Yields about 4 cups.
- Can be stored refrigerated up to 5 days.
Suggested Garnish & Add-Ons:
- European Dark Rye Bread
- chopped mushrooms
- natural sauerkraut
- chopped naturally marinated vegetables
- freshly grated black peppercorns
- any other toppings or sides you wish
- Distribute Fermented Beet Pasta on serving plates.
- Pour Creamy Sage Mushroom Gravy over each serving.
- Garnish and serve immediately.
- Toss the Fermented Beet Pasta and Creamy Sage Mushroom Gravy together in a bowl.
- Garnish and serve immediately.