I recently had dinner at Salt, Chef Wes Johnson's new restaurant in St. Louis, with a few of my Kitchen Conservatory co-workers. We ordered & shared nearly all of the small plates....including duck fat frites, mussels with chorizo, seared scallop with mustard sauce & cedar smoke, pork & fennel meatballs, crispy pork belly with pickled vegetables, and--my favorite dish of the night--pasta with beet sauce & sauteed collard greens.
I wanted to recreate that dish at home, especially since there were some farmers market beets in the fridge that I needed to use. I didn't use a recipe, but here's what I did to create this simple, flavorful, and vibrant summer dish:
1. Trim, peel, & roast red beets with a drizzle of olive oil, salt & pepper at 400 degrees until tender, about 15 minutes (I had about 6 tiny little beets).
2. Meanwhile, saute 1 small yellow onion (chopped) & 1 garlic clove (crushed) in some olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) until just softened. Add to a blender or food processor. Add the beets when they are cooked.
3. Add a splash of dry red wine, some heavy cream (I added about 1/2 cup), and the zest of 1 lemon to the beets. Blitz until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Add more wine/cream or water to reach desired consistency. Toss the sauce with cooked & drained pasta.
4. To wilt the arugula: Over medium heat, cook a couple tablespoons of olive oil with a crushed clove of garlic in a large skillet. When it just starts to sizzle, add a few large handfuls of arugula. Toss in the oil and cook until wilted & tender. Finish with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
5. To serve: Spoon some of the pasta onto a plate. Top with a pile of the wilted arugula & a sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese.