Beet Pesto Pasta with Goat Cheese Over Arugula

Beet Pesto Pasta with Goat Cheese Over Arugula

Pink is not my color. And it really never has been.

As a kid, I preferred blue, which fared quite nicely for my parents who stuffed me in hand-me-downs from my brother. That’s okay. I wasn’t ever really a dress girl either. I was a tree-climbing wannabe tomboy. Scraped knees were better for keeping up that persona than pink dresses, as probably were oversized clothes.

The only time I did wear pink was when my parents dressed my 3-year-old self up in a puffy pink princess gown for a Halloween event. I took home first place at the event’s costume contest. That I’ll attribute to the itchy goldilocks wig they also placed atop my head. I haven’t worn pink since.


Today, I love dresses. And nail polish. And climbing trees too. Naturally, I’m a hodgepodge of my younger self and older years. Part lover of fashion, hater of shopping, adventurer of trees and urban landscape.

I still don’t love pink when it comes to clothes, but when it comes to the kitchen, I can’t get enough of it. There’s nothing uglier than a bright pink shirt (in most cases), but there’s little else more beautiful than a bowl of pink pasta. The beet-dyed strands like the ones pictured above make my heart melt for magenta.

Beet Pesto Pasta with Goat Cheese Over Arugula

This has been my year of the beet, which has infused a love, almost a need, for its color in any situation possible. A little goes a long way, like in this rice and quinoa tabbouleh, and the pesto recipe that follows.

Beet Pesto Pasta with Goat Cheese Over Arugula

Here, it keeps basil pesto from turning a putrid green, sweeping in with its dye to prevent any pitfalls of oxidization. The beet will add a slight earthiness to the pesto, but is far from prominent in flavor. Rather, it shines in its color, which pairs so naturally well with vibrant arugula and the amenable tones of pasta.


The goat cheese is optional, so feel free to skip it all together if you’re vegan or dabbling in dairy-free. It adds a slight tang to play off the mild sweetness of the beets, but a few sliced tomatoes could work just as well.

Beet Pesto Pasta with Goat Cheese Over Arugula

Beet Pesto Pasta with Goat Cheese Over Arugula


  • -2 medium cloves garlic
  • -1 1/3 packed cup of basil
  • -1 medium beet, grated
  • -1/3 cup toasted almonds
  • -1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • -1 tsp. salt, plus to taste
  • -1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • -2 Tbsp. reserved pasta water, optional
  • -Arugula (enough for 1 cup per person)
  • -4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • -Freshly ground pepper
  • -1 lb. pasta (I used whole wheat spaghetti)


  1. Pulse garlic cloves in a food processor.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, slowly drizzling in the olive oil and adding the pasta water, if needed/desired to thin. Continue to pulse until smooth.
  3. Toss with pasta. Place 1 cup of arugula on each plate/bowl. Spoon pasta on top. Divide goat cheese, crumbling on top. Top with fresh ground pepper. Serve.


The pesto freezes quite well. If serving only a small crowd, feel free to freeze halve the pesto for later and reduce the amount of pasta you cook.

You also may have a little extra pesto sauce than needed for the pasta, which you can store in the freezer, or in the fridge to spread on sandwiches/ dip broccoli in, etc.


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  • Reply
    dishing up the dirt
    March 12, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Wow!!! This is my kind of pasta. We’ve made beet pesto a few times and I love it. Your version sounds fantastic. What a lovely dish.

  • Reply
    March 17, 2014 at 1:11 am

    Looks delicious! I’ve made pesto several times, but without yeast. What does it add to the finished pesto?

    • Reply
      March 17, 2014 at 10:11 am

      Hi Mary,

      The nutritional yeast serves as a great substitute for the Parmesan component in traditional pesto. I tend to eat a lot of vegan-based meals. Obviously this dish is topped with goat cheese, but the nutritional yeast helps to cut back on some of the dairy, while also packing in some B vitamins. I’d definitely suggest giving it a try, but if not, do substitute parm!

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