There are so many ways to be awestruck by the incredible power of nature. Humming birds hovering over fragrant flowers and the way native plans use tough outer leaves to retain water, and beauty, even with little rain. Mountains are humbling, ocean waves otherworldly, but for me it's produce that can take my breath away.
Romanesco broccoli is so cool and almost ridiculous, and the inside of a pink pearl apple is striking. Mustard leaves can be so purple they are almost black while asparagus just pops out of bare soil without any fanfare. Scarlet runner beans change color as the season progresses like something from a fairytale, chard stems are brighter than any neon lights and then there's the color of a deep, red beet.
Bull's blood beets live up to their name. They'll also stain anything, from your fingers to countertops - turning anything in its wake a nice, bright pink. The striking color makes them so fun to cook with, and I recently made a pasta stuffed with beets and goat cheese. A plin is similar to a ravioli, and when you bite through the pasta you are greeted with a ruby red filling.
While the plins were delicious, they were very much a labor of love and a special occasion food. But the filling was easy and delicious, and when we had extra after our plin making extravaganza, I found all sorts of things to use it for. And now, I'm going to make batches of the filling and keep it in a jar in my fridge the next time I want to paint my food pink. It is great spread on a thick slice of toast, or plopped on top of penne pasta. It would be great as a sandwich spread, on a cheese plate or the shocking inside to an omelet. A color so beautiful and rich it had to come from nature.
Beet & Goat Cheese Spread
From Rustic Italian Food by Marc Vetri
1 large red beet (6-8 oz)
1/4 cup fresh goat cheese
1 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
salt to taste
(also think herbs, olive oil or lemon/orange zest would be great in here)
Preheat oven to 425. Wrap the beet well in aluminum foil and roast in oven for 50-60 until fork tender. Remove and once cool, slip skin off. Cut beet into chunks and put in food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth. Taste for salt and enjoy!