Tuesday, September 29, 2009

how to get PeoPle to eat PurPle

So, the saying goes something about the best intentions...blah, blah, blah...My original intention was not to post a blog on making bolognese, but clearly this little experiment has turned into so much more than originally intended or expected. I feel I need to share as I have created (if you find a similar sauce somewhere please share as I would love to compare methods and ingredients).

What I did was create a slow roasted bounty of fresh Ontario veggies and turn it into a sort of meat sauce for pasta. The veggies present had caught my eye on a trip to my favourite independent grocery store, Fiesta Farms. Add to that, beets from the farmers market that were teetering on no longer being useable and the purchase of a club pack of ground beef. Can you say necessity, that too is what this sauce is born from. Meatloaf, and tacos pre-date this and the only thing left to make was sauce.

Alright, lets skip to the results because this is no mere meat sauce, or bolognese, rather this is a way to get fussy eaters to try beets in a totally unique way.

It is really deep and complex in flavours as the list of ingredients can attest. I hope the pictures do it justice, as it is really vibrant in colour and aroma. I actually stepped into the hall to clear my nose of the cooking smell and stepped back in, which I like doing in order to really experience the smell of the cooking(yes, I am a bit crazy, I get that) .

It all goes back to your roots, as I have reinforced many times, but you always create your own "flavour" and style which reflects in your creations. You have to to put a stamp of creativity and authenticity on cooking, even when doctoring recipes.

I am going to make this simple and because I really tend to not measure when I cook here it is raw:

Purple Pasta Sauce

  • Slow roast the following at 375, with a drizzle of olive oil.
  1. A couple of onions 
  2. A pepper or two, I used one yellow
  3. A bunch of carrots (wrapped in foil, I leave the skin on)
  4. Yummy beets, about 6 (wrapped in foil, unpeeled but trimmed)
  5. A head of garlic, with the top cut off and some oil covering the top (wrapped in foil)

  • Keep them in for 45-60 minutes or as long as 90 just until the kitchen smells fragrant
  • Turn down the oven temperature to 225
  • Half some Roma tomatoes, rub them with EVOO and some S&P, put on parchment and leave in for a minimum of 3 hours and up to 5, the longer you leave them the sweeter they will taste. You can use cherry tomatoes or anything similar for this as well and they would work great. 

  • Take about a pound or so of lean ground beef and in a big pot heat some oil, add the meat and season cooking until almost cooked. (I used salt, pepper, garlic salt, onion powder, basil, oregano). 
  • I then added some red wine, about 1/4 of the bottle, some chipotle Tobasco sauce, and some balsamic and simmered it for a few minutes.
  • Finally I added all of the wonderful roasted veg, including the tomatoes and mixed everything through. 
  • Simmered it on low for about an hour and a half, adding some more wine and mixing as I went along.
  • Then I took a potato masher and went to town making sure everything was nice and broken up, and mostly uniform.
  • VOILA! Purple Pasta Sause, or Bolognese with Beets.
I hope people will want to try this for themselves, and please let me know if you do. What you thought, what you did different? After all, it is about creating something you will enjoy!

Peace, Love, and Ice Cream.


  1. This looks very interesting. I have made a pasta with beets dish concocted by my foodie hero, Laurie Colwin (RIP), from her book More Home Cooking. Here is a link to recipe on someone's blog:

    pasta with beets

    It is unconventional but tasty.

  2. That does look intriguing I might have to try that one next time, thanks for the link.

  3. This looks fabulous. I don't know how Sheryl (TasteTO blog-a-log) could say that it looks scary.

    I bet this sauce would be a fabulous stuffing for ravioli. To be served completely non-traditionally (as if beet ravioli are even remotely traditional) with yoghurt and caramelized onions.


  4. Wow Elizabeth, that sounds wonderful to me, let me know if you try it and if it works!