Penne Pasta in a Roasted Beet Sauce

Ingredients

  •  3 medium-sized beets, cleaned and cut into a small dice
  •  3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  •  3 sprigs thyme
  •  3 cloves garlic
  •  1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  •  1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  •  1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  •  1/4 cup cream or milk
  •  1 tsp. sugar
  •  1/2 pound penne pasta
  •  Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  •  Optional: 1 Tbs. poppy seeds
  •  Optional: mint leaves, for garnish

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the diced beets with 1 Tbs. oil, thyme sprigs and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes. Check for doneness at the 30-minute mark.

3. Transfer beets to a food processor. Add the garlic, balsamic vinegar, half of the cheese and the 2 remaining Tbs. oil. Pulse until it’s as smooth as you can get it.

4. Transfer beet mixture to a small saucepan. Add the stock and cream and bring to a light simmer. Add the sugar, remaining cheese and another pinch of salt. Simmer on medium-low while you prepare the rest of the meal. 

5. Toast the poppy seeds in a small skillet until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

6. Cook the penne until al dente. Drain and return to skillet. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss to combine. Season accordingly.

7. Serve pasta garnished with a good sprinkle of the poppy seeds and the mint leaves.