Red Beet Fusilli with Balsamic, Poppyseeds and Mint
Originally in Food and Wine Magazine. This sounds like a lot of butter, but if served as a side dish or appetizer, it still fits into an overall healthy diet. Wear an apron or old clothes when grating the beets or you will be spotted. The recipe calls for poppyseeds and mint, but for me, beets work so well with tarragon, so even though I have both, I chose to use tarragon. If you don't have poppyseeds, use pine nuts instead.
4 tablespoons poppy seeds
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound raw, fresh red beets, peeled and grated
1 pound fusilli or a "ribbon style" pasta
Salt and pepper, to taste
2/3 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Fresh mint, or tarragon
In a large, heavy saucepan toast the poppy seeds over high heat, stirring, until they are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Add 5 tablespoons butter to the same saucepan and cook over medium heat until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the grated beets and season with salt and pepper, and 2 tbsp of the balsamic vinegar. Turn the heat off, cover, and let sit at least 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted water, boil the pasta until just al dente. Drain and transfer the pasta to the pan with the beets, reserving some of the pasta water. Add in a ladle of the hot pasta water and toss the pasta with the remaining 1 tbsp butter and the grated cheese; season the pasta with salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir together with the poppy seeds and remaining balsamic vinegar. Garnish with mint, add more salt and pepper, as necessary. Serve with a little more cheese passed at the table.