This baked feta and beet pasta sauce combine earthy-sweet beets with salty, savory feta, garlic, herbs, and your favorite pasta of choice - all topped off with some crunchy walnuts. The result is a quick and simple, healthy, flavor-packed, meat-free meal!
Wash your beets well, and then chop them into smaller pieces (to help them roast faster). Make sure to do this on a non-porous surface as the beets can stain.
Step 2: Roast the ingredients
Add the block of feta to the middle of a large baking dish and surround it with the chopped beets, oregano (placed at the bottom of the dish to avoid them burning), and a drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and add just a drizzle more oil to the top of the feta blockYou can optionally roast the garlic, too, for a sweeter, more mellow taste. Also, feel free to leave the feta unbaked (however, I like the flavor and texture that baking it provides).
Bake in a preheated oven for 30-40 minutes at 425ºF/220ºC - this will depend on how big you chop the beets. I recommend checking at 20 minutes to make sure nothing is burning.
Step 3: Cook your pasta
Meanwhile, in the last 10-or-so minutes of roasting the beets with feta, you can cook your pasta of choice, according to their package instruction. Make sure to save some of the pasta water as it will help the sauce to adhere to the pasta.
Step 4: Blend the beet pasta sauce
Allow the baked ingredients to cool slightly before transferring the beets and oregano to a blender/food processor along with the garlic and lemon. Blend into a creamy consistency.You can add the feta at the same time if you want it fully incorporated. However, I hand-mashed it into the beet sauce for a little more texture. You can then add a little pasta water to help thin the beetroot and feta cheese pasta sauce to your desired consistency.
Step 5: Assemble the baked feta and beet pasta
Combine the sauce with your cooked pasta of choice and top off with some crushed walnuts and, optionally, some extra oregano - then serve!
How to Store the Feta and Beet Pasta
Make ahead: you can prepare the feta beet pasta sauce in advance and store it in the fridge or freezer. To do so, simply follow the recipe apart from cooking the pasta, allow the sauce to cool, and then transfer to an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. You can store it for 4-5 days in the refrigerator or freeze it for up to 4 months in the freezer. Reheat on the stovetop, optionally with a splash of water if needed.Note: You can also prepare the beetroot sauce without the feta- this can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months!Fridge: store the leftover beet and baked feta pasta in an airtight container and enjoy it within 4-5 days. You can enjoy the leftovers warm or chilled.Freeze: separate the pasta into individual portions ad then freeze for 4 months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before enjoying cold or reheated. The texture of the feta may change slightly upon thawing.
Optional Add-ins & Variations:
Turn it into a pasta salad: beetroot and feta salad is a classic, so why not turn this into a cold pasta salad. Serve cold with some spinach, kale, or arugula. Feel free to add in extra ingredients like pear or orange segments. Other herbs will also work well, like mint.
For spice: add in some thinly sliced red chilies or a big pinch of chili flakes. Adjust to your personal preference.
Honey: honey balances the salty flavor of the feta well while enhancing the natural sweetness in the beets. Add just a drizzle to the top of the feta before baking, and feel free to increase after to taste. Instead of honey, you could also try maple or agave, though honey pairs best.
Pomegranate: just a small handful of pomegranate seeds added as a garnish will add a sweet and tangy flavor that pairs well with the beets.
Red onion: slice it up into thin half-moons and scatter it around the bottom of the baking dish to roast in the oven. Alternatively, do the same with shallots.
Cream: for an even creamier beet pasta sauce, feel free to add a little cream or creme fraiche when blending.
Balsamic vinegar: or a balsamic reduction could be used to drizzle over the served pasta dish. Balsamic and red wine vinegar are popular additions to regular feta and beetroot salad, so I imagine they’d taste superb with this baked feta beetroot pasta too!
Make it vegan: you can use dairy-free feta; just note that vegan feta (not tofu-based) tends to melt entirely when baked. I recommend adding ⅓-½ to the baking dish (if any!) and keeping the remainder and crumbling it into the sauce.
Other Recipe Notes:
Picking beets: some believe that the smaller the beet, the sweeter the flavor. However, if the larger beets are just as shiny, smooth, and round as the smaller ones, then they should be just as sweet/tender. If, on the other hand, the beets are bumpy/lumpy, dull, or otherwise oddly shaped, this can mean that they are over-matured and won’t be as sweet or tender in the middle.
To bake or not: this recipe is fairly versatile in that you can use pre-cooked beets with no baking necessary and even decide not to bake the feta. However, I think it’s important to note that each ingredient you choose not to bake will affect the final flavor of the beet pasta sauce, especially since roasting adds caramelization and depths of flavor to the various elements.
If you have beets greens: don’t throw away the stems/leaves from your beets (if they look fresh still). You can steam or saute them, add them to salads, or even turn them into beet greens pesto (similarly to how I did with this carrot greens pesto).
How else to use the beet sauce: I find this beet sauce works best with pasta and similar dishes, like with couscous, orzo, and other grains. You could also use the sauce as a layer in lasagna or spread a little in sandwiches/wraps for extra flavor.
To toast the walnuts: add them to a dry pan over medium heat and lightly toast until fragrant and lightly browned. They’ll burn quickly, so keep a constant eye on them.
You can also check the FAQs above this recipe card for answers to top FAQs!