Category Archives: sauce

Beet Pesto


Confession: my life is more or less plagued with inside jokes surrounding beets. Most normal people have a number of beet jokes less than or equal to 1 (p<0.05). The fact that I have multiple probably tells you something about me… anyways, I digress. Wait, as I am typing this I realized I chose beets as my blog header. Blerg.

I have stuck to pretty simple things with beets: soups and roasting. But then something magical happened: I put them in my food processor with sunflower seeds, garlic, and cilantro. I had come across a recipe for beet pesto a while ago and I just couldn’t shake the image of the gorgeous magenta sauce adorning some slender noodles. Well, one evening I had diced up some beets and threw them in the oven to put on a salad… but then all of a sudden they were in my food processor! And they were being swirled around in this beautiful food ballet with sunflower seeds, garlic, vinegar, and cilantro. And it was the best thing. Ever.


Now while making this pesto, my roommate asked me what it has to have to qualify it as a pesto? This was a great question. The Wikipedia has told me that “pesto” means “pounded,” so really any sauce that is made in that way, I suppose, is a pesto. Additionally, it seems ground up nuts/garlic are traditionally at the base of it.


Side story: US customs almost didn’t let me back in the country coming from Italy due to a jar of pesto in my [checked] luggage. They didn’t bat an eye at the 5 kilos of Parmigiano Reggiano or 4 bottles of wine… but the pesto? Packed next to my stuffed animal? That is some fishy business.


Enjoying parmigiano in Parma at dinner con i miei genitori italiani. Again, of no concern to the TSA.

In conclusion, a pesto is a ground sauce with a base of nuts and garlic that will get you stopped at customs. I hope this answer satisfies.

But back to something that I know will satisfy: this beet pesto. First of all, it is absolutely stunning. It has the most intense/complex/deep magenta/red color that only nature could produce, which my man made words can’t quite give justice to.  Once you have stopped admiring it, you can use it like you would use any pesto: on pasta, as a dip, as a spread on a sandwich, or really anything else you can imagine! Be creative here! All of my trials have been wildly successful. So I plead that you run to your farmers market or grocer and grab a bunch of beets and get to it!


Beet Pesto

Inspired by A Veggie Venture


  • 1 bunch of beets
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Wash and peel beets (save the beet tops! Sauté with a little but of garlic and olive oil) and cut into 1/2” cubes
  3. Spread out evening on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a few shakes of salt.
  4. Roast beets for about 20 minutes.
  5. Place roasted beets with all remaining ingredients but the olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth.
  6. Stream in the olive oil until it has reached the consistency you are happy with.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Enjoy!


Many apologies via parsley pesto

I owe you an apology. Many apologies, in fact. I have been MIA. Sure, I could go on and on telling you how busy I have been, and while that is partly true, I refuse to use it as an excuse. My free time has been jam packed with one social obligation after another, though. I had a friend visiting, during which time I spent my days in Napa, visiting Alcatraz, trekking in Muir woods, BBQing, or stuffing my face with food truck food. I was also away for 10 days at a conference in New Hampshire on lipoprotein metabolism (which was exhausting, awesome, and filled with wonderful people). Not to mention the plethora of needless eating out I have been doing. And then on the days that I was just chilling at home… I wasn’t making anything noteworthy.

That is with the exception of this parsley pesto… which I made weeks ago… and am only posting now. So embarrassing.

Parsley overfloweth in my herb garden, so I knew I wanted to do some garden fresh parsley-heavy dish. And what better way to use up a big bunch of parsley than to blend it into a fresh pesto?! I didn’t have any pine nuts on hand, but I did have some walnuts… and obviously plenty of garlic.

I tossed this pungent (and I mean that in the best of ways… the parsley flavor is very strong in a very very good way) sauce over some quinoa pasta with some fresh cherry tomatoes and called it a night. Simple as that! And then I enjoyed it on my balcony, looking at my newly trimmed herb garden. Next up, the mint and the pineapple sage need some tending to… in general expect some herb heavy recipes this summer.

Parsley Pesto
  • 1 bunch of parsley (roughly 2 cups), stems removed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • olive oil (ends up being about 1/2 cup)
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Add the parsley, walnuts, garlic and lemon juice to a food processor and process until a uniform paste forms.
  2. With the food processor running, stream in the olive oil until a smooth sauce consistency is reached.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Toss with pasta and enjoy!
    • If serving with pasta, reserve a bit of the pasta water to thin out the sauce and help it coat the pasta nicely.

I’ll put this sauce on everything

My loveliest of loves had a small gathering at her place this past weekend. I eagerly offered to bring some delectable bites upon receiving the invite. I offered with the highest of aspirations and the best of intentions. I set to looking through my fancy cookbooks and selected barley risotto cakes with a smoked onion-chipotle sauce. Yum.

Long story short? It was a disaster. Seven pm rolled around and I had this soupy messy of al dente barley, that laughed at the thought of being formed into a ball. Luckily I had also made cookies (rosemary shortbread cookies, which you will be seeing soon), so I didn’t feel too bad abandoning the risotto balls.

Heres the deal though: I had already made the smoked onion-chipotle sauce, which was like fiery angels dancing on my tongue. Legit, my roommates and I were gathered around the bowl with spoons and dumb smiles on our faces. Except for resplendent R, who hates eating spicy foods after napping. I was so excited to share it, and it really saddened me to pour it into a tupperwear container and store it in the fridge while I went galavanting.

But alas, the plot thickens. Turns out this is the most delicious sauce and it can be put on anything. Or eaten by the spoonful. Whatever. Sunday evening, it made its way onto some pizza, per the suggestion of nebulous N. A sweet potato and kale pizza, to be exact. More to be said on that later.

My suggestion? Go make this sauce. Then figure out what you are going to do with it. It is like a cross between tomato sauce, salsa, and barbecue sauce. And anyone who knows me knows my feelings on barbecue sauce. I could spend at least 30 minutes proclaiming my love of and strange habits with barbecue sauce, but that isn’t a digression we are going to take now. So basically, you could use this sauce on anything that calls for any of the above. I can also imagine that it freezes well, so having a baggy or two of this in the freezer seems like a good idea to me.

Smoked Onion-Chipotle Sauce
Adapted from The Millennium Cookbook
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 red onions, smoked and sliced (or 2 onions, sliced + 2 teaspoons liquid smoke)
  • 1/4 dry red wine
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups fresh or canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup canned chipotles in adobo
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  1. Saute the onions in the canola oil and red wine over medium heat for about 12 minutes.
  2. Add the cumin and oregano and sauté for 2 additional minutes.
  3. Add the honey, vinegar, tomatoes, chipotle, stock, and salt and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Carefully transfer to blender (in batches) and blend until smooth.
  5. Enjoy immensely!