Jeanne Thiel Kelley's Farfalle with Golden Beets and Pine Nuts Recipe

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Jeanne Thiel Kelley's Farfalle with Golden Beets and Pine Nuts Recipe

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

It took me a long time to get over my childhood memory of canned beets (I'd guess that lots of people avoid them altogether for years, like I did). But when beets are simply cooked and especially when they're in season, the earthy sweetness is subtle and delicious.

Why I Picked This Recipe: Knowing that beets' seasonality and hot summer weather tend to coexist, I liked that this recipe cut them into wedges to boil rather than roast, saving me the extreme heat of turning on the oven.

What Worked: Because it takes quite a while to prep and peel the beets, and because they're boiled instead of roasted, this recipe smartly relies on the slow caramelization of a couple large onions. It takes advantage of the prep time, and it adds a sweet, richly flavored base for the pasta that makes up for the fact that the beets aren't roasted.

What Didn't: The recipe didn't specify to thinly slice the onions, but It should have, which would have sped it up considerably. I've changed the instructions and estimated times accordingly.

Suggested Tweaks: Golden beets aren't essential if you don't mind pink pasta. And if you can't find beets with good greens on them, a bunch of Swiss chard is the perfect substitute.

Adapted from Epicurious.

  • Yield:serves 4
  • Active time: 20
  • Total time:45


  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large onions, quartered lengthwise through root end, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8-10 2-inch-diameter golden beets with greens attached
  • 12 ounces farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


  1. 1.

    In a large (12-inch) heavy skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium high heat until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

  2. 2.

    Add half the olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium until shimmering. Add the onions and saute until beginning to soften and turn golden. Reduce heat to medium low, season with salt, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and caramelized, about 30 minutes.

  3. 3.

    While the onions are caramelizing, peel the beets and cut each into 8 wedges, then slice the greens into 1-inch strips. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the beets until tender, 10-15 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon to a bowl to cool, leaving the water to cook the pasta.

  4. 4.

    When the onions are caramelized, add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes longer, then add the beet greens on top of the onions and drizzle the remaining oil over them. Cover and continue cooking until the greens are tender, about 5 minutes.

  5. 5.

    Bring the water back to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente, then drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot, add the onion mixture and beets, and toss to combine. Add the Parmesan plus pasta water 1/4 cup at a time, and cook over low heat to create a silky sauce.

  6. 6.

    Serve with the toasted pine nuts and more Parmesan.