Sunday, February 13, 2011

Roasted Broccoli Penne with Savory Orange-Beet Salad

This is my current favorite weeknight dinner. The whole thing comes together in half an hour, and it involves broccoli and garlic, two of my favorite things to find in the kitchen. Of course, there's a good chance you'll reek afterward, so maybe skip this one for Valentine's Day dinner.

Note: The salad requires roasted beets, which take about an hour and then need to cool. My advice? Roast a bunch of them early in the week and slice them into salads, drizzle them with olive oil and serve as a side dish with salt and pepper, combine with feta and toasted walnuts...

Directions for roasting beets are at the bottom.

Yield: 2 servings
Start to finish: 30 minutes

Roasted Broccoli Penne with Savory Orange-Beet Salad
1-1/2 C whole wheat penne (dry)
2 crowns broccoli (I use the florets and the small stalks, sliced into bite-sized pieces)
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste - be generous
2 T olive oil
1/4 C Parmesan cheese, grated
1 handful walnuts, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Put penne on to cook according to package directions.
3. Toss broccoli, garlic, salt, and pepper in the olive oil. Spread in a single layer in a baking dish.
4. Roast the broccoli mixture for 10-12 minutes, until broccoli is just tender. It will be a lovely, deep, bright green.
5. Drain the pasta well, and return to the pot. Toss with the broccoli mixture, walnuts, and Parmesan cheese.
6. For maximum color impact and general tastiness, serve with...

Savory Orange-Beet Salad
1 roasted beet, peeled and sliced
1 orange, separated into slices
Juice of 1 orange (about 1/4 C?)
1-1/2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Arrange the beet and orange slices artfully on the plate.
2. In a small jar, combine orange juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Shake well.
3. Drizzle the dressing over the beets and oranges.

How to roast beets:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. If your beets came with greens, cut those off and save them for another purpose. (You can use them the way you'd use spinach or any other greens.) Rinse the beets well to remove any dirt. Put the beets on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Double it up if your foil is flimsy -- trust me when I tell you that beets are juicy and will drip all over your oven. Drizzle olive oil over the beets, making sure they're covered with oil. Fold the foil to cover the beets and crimp the sides to make sure the packet is tightly closed. Roast the beets until they're tender. It will take about an hour, less for smaller beets, more for bigger ones. Poke through the foil with a fork to check doneness. It should slide in easily, kind of like a baked potato. When the beets have cooled, the peels should slip right off when you rub them, but you can also peel them with a paring knife.

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