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Haters Gonna Hate, But You’ll Love Roasted Beet Pesto

beet pesto

Beets were on my top food offender list when I was a kid.  Beets didn’t come from a farm or the grocery store, they came from a salad bar.  Sizzler, Soup Plantation, even Carl’s Jr. (yes, they had a salad bar in the ol’ days) all had ‘em. Sliced or julienned, my auntie would pile them on her salad.  All I knew was, they went straight from a can into a tub and they tasted like dirt in dark purple water.  Who would eat that?  It was one vegetable I flat out hated.  Conversion, er, enlightenment(!), came 20 years later, via a slightly sweet, earthy roasted beet salad with blue cheese and a citrus vinaigrette.  Beets went from vegetatum non grata (probably not accurate Latin) to one of my favorites.

Fast forward to this week.  I get a daily email from Il Corvo in Seattle that gives the rundown on the pastas (it’s what they do) on offer that day.  It’s mouth-watering and torturous at the same time, since they’re only open for lunch Monday through Friday and it isn’t close by.  Monday’s lacinato kale parsley pesto had basil and I had none, but it got me thinking about pesto alternatives, and about the four big fat beets I had in the fridge.

roasted beet pesto | dailywaffle

Since seeing the light, I’ve usually left beets to the pros, mainly because someone else gets to stain their fingers peeling those little buggers, but when the pickins are slim in the winter, you gotta do what you gotta do.  Flip on the oven, scrub down those beets, wrap ‘em up in some parchment and foil and let ‘em bake at 400F for an hour.  Pull on a pair of gloves and get to work. It is a little messy, but you’ll live. I just wouldn’t do it with kids around. And wear black.

roasted beet pesto | dailywaffle

The pesto itself is vegan, the parmesan (or blue cheese, if you like) is simply suggested as a pretty garnish.  You could easily sprinkle it with additional ground almonds, if you like.  One big beet will make enough to feed three or four, but if you’re going to go to the trouble, roast up a few beets and use the others for salad.

roasted beet pesto | dailywaffle

Roasted Beet Pesto

Print Recipe
Serves: 3-4 Cooking Time: 1 hour


  • ¾ lb. dried farfalle
  • 1 medium to large beet, roasted, peeled and diced (~1 ½ c. diced)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ c. whole raw almonds
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • parmesan cheese to garnish



In a food processor or blender, combine beets, garlic, almonds, lemon juice and salt. Pulse 8-10 times to get the mixture broken down, scraping down the sides to ensure even blending. With the machine running, stream the olive oil into the machine. Continue running the machine until it becomes a thick paste. It will be slightly chunky, but there shouldn’t be big, identifiable pieces of beet or almond in it.


Boil the pasta according to package directions in very salty water. Combine the pesto and farfalle in a bowl and stir until the pasta is well-coated. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese (or blue cheese, if you prefer) and serve.

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  • Gerri
    June 8, 2014 at 10:40 am

    This would be good with Pistachios as well

  • daneesha
    March 18, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    I love raw beets! Shredded beets and carrots is my favorite salad! And you can’t go wrong with fresh beet and apple juice! Can’t wait to give this a try, it looks gorgeous!

  • Vicky
    February 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    I’m eating a bowl of this right now. Delicious! I roasted two cloves of garlic with the beet, and replaced the almonds with roasted walnuts because that’s what I had. It’s a beautiful bright meal on a dark winter day. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • Hannah
    February 8, 2013 at 9:32 am

    No convincing needed here, I’ve always been a beet fan (even at Sizzler…boy did you just bring back college memories!). But once I discovered fresh beets I was in heaven. Your beet pesto sounds fantastic, especially with blue cheese. And what a pretty color!

  • Julia
    February 7, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Brilliant! I love beets and could easily see them being delicious as pasta sauce! Love that you made pesto out of them! The pesto is so colorful and healthy!!

  • lj
    February 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    I love beets so much, and I can’t wait to make this. Would you recommend putting the parmesan in the blender with everything else?

    • Michelle
      February 7, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      No reason you couldn’t add the parmesan to the blender, I’d keep it light, just so you have that pure beet goodness! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

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