Be it for your personal health, ethical reasons, or the love of our big old planet (hey hey, Earth Day), it seems like more of us are limiting our meat intake on the regular. Nikki Dinki, best known for her stint on Food Network Star, as well as the host of the Cooking Channel’s Junk Food Flip, has a cookbook (Meat on The Side, available for pre-sale) which speaks to this herbivorous lifestyle trend. She’s not preaching kale as king, or waxing poetic on mung beans, but rather helping you find the balance of making your veggie choices extend past an occasional meatless monday. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Finding the balance, my darling? Yes, indeed it is. Thanks, Nikki!

Ingredients

Directions

Beet Pasta

  1. Place a large pot of water over high heat for cooking the pasta. While the water is heating, prepare the beet water you will use later by combining the beets and water in a blender. Transfer the beet water to another large pot. Begin heating the pot holding the beet water over high heat.
  2. When the first pot of salted water has reached a boil, add the pasta and cook it according to the package directions until it is about 2-3 minutes shy of being done. Then drain the pasta and place it in the now-boiling beet water. Continue cooking it until it is al dente—2-3 minutes more. Drain the pasta and rinse it off to get rid of any beet pulp stuck to the noodles.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the lemon ricotta garnish by thoroughly mixing the ricotta cheese and lemon zest. Set this mixture aside for later.
  4. After the pasta is done, drain it and toss it with the pesto (directions below). Serve garnished with the lemon ricotta mixture, pine nuts and arugula.

Brown Butter Arugula Pesto

  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter and cook it until browned—about 5 minutes (Watch my How to Brown Butter video). Add the smashed garlic and cook it until fragrant—about 1 minute. Then turn off the heat and let this mixture cool.
  2. Once the browned butter and garlic mixture has reached room temperature, add it to the bowl of a food processor along with the arugula, parmesan, and toasted pine nuts. Blend this until it is smooth—you want it to be loose and easily spreadable.
Images via: Nikki Dinki