Hello from icy and snowy Toronto! Otto and I are so happy to be here to celebrate Ukrainian Christmas with my family. Tonight we’ll have our 12-course Christmas Eve dinner, and today’s Meatless Monday dish was inspired by borscht and mushroom dumplings that are part of it (and by far my favorite or all 12).
The other day I had 5 steamed beets ready to make into creamed beets but got sidetracked, and 2 portobello mushrooms that were already sliced and sauteed and didn’t quite make it to be the gravy as intended for this unamitastic vegetarian nut loaf. The next day, I got to thinking how great the flavor combination is of the just slightly tart but salty borscht is with the earthy mushroom dumplings, so why not make it into a pesto, right? For a bit more earthiness, I added in a handful of walnuts, but unlike most pestos, I left out the cheese. However, I’m sure a little parmesan wouldn’t hurt. I added a dollop of ricotta once I served it.
I did make one mistake, though…I put it on a delicate mushroom ravioli. The problem with that was that the raviolis took over, and they fell apart as I tried to toss them with the pesto (hence no photo). I froze half of the pesto for another time, and next time around, I’ll use farfalle (as discussed here: the pasta that’s dumpling-like without being a dumpling), although I’m sure any pasta that’s not filled would do.
Beet and Mushroom Pesto, makes about 2 cups
- 2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced thin and sauteed in some butter until they’ve let go of their liquid
- one large beet, steamed, peeled, and diced
- two cloves of garlic
- one small handful of walnuts
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor, pulse together two cloves of fresh garlic and a handful of walnuts (toasted, if you’d like). Add in the beets and mushrooms and pulse some more. Then, with the food processor running, add some olive oil in (about 2 tablespoons or so? more if you like it runnier, but you can always adjust later) and a few splashes of vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
Mix with whatever you’d like. If you are mixing it into a pasta dish, save some pasta water to help loosen and distribute the pesto nicely.