8-10 baby or 6-8 medium golden beets, greens removed
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided, plus extra for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound rigatoni with ridges, gemelli or whole wheat penne pasta
2 large shallots, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
1 box frozen petite peas (10 ounces)
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley (about a handful), finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus extra to pass at the table
4 cups arugula or baby arugula, washed
4 small, ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF.
Coat the beets with a drizzle of EVOO and place them on a roasting pan. Cover the pan with foil and place in the oven. Roast the beets for about 30 minutes if using baby or about 45 minutes if using medium. When done, a pointed knife inserted in the beets should go in without much resistance. Remove them from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes, until cool enough to handle.
Just before the beets come out of the oven, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, salt the water liberally, add the pasta and cook to al dente. Heads up: reserve 1 cup of the starchy cooking water before you drain the pasta.
While the beets cool, heat 3 tablespoons of the EVOO, about three turns of the pan, in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add the peas, gently cook for 3-4 minutes until heated through, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Peel the beets and add them to a food processor with the ricotta cheese. Puree for a minute or so, until combined into a smooth, golden mixture. Transfer to a large pasta bowl and season with about 2 teaspoons of lemon zest, salt, freshly ground black pepper, the parsley and 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Add the reserved starchy cooking water, the hot pasta and the peas and shallots. Toss to combine and let sit for a minute to allow the pasta time to absorb the flavors. Just before serving, give it another quick toss.
In a bowl, add the arugula and the tomatoes. Toss the salad with lemon juice, to taste, the remaining 3 tablespoons of EVOO, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pass additional Parmigiano Reggiano for the pasta at the table serve with the salad alongside.
: If you can't find golden beets you can substitute small red beets. Coat your hands with a little EVOO before peeling them to prevent them from staining your hands. This is one of many "Yum-o!" recipes – it's good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael's nonprofit organization, go to www.yum-o.org.