Serves 8 / Pappardelle, or wide ribbon pasta, holds up well to rich, hearty beets. Add a little spice to this dish with a pinch of crushed red chili pepper. The beets can be cooked a day or two ahead and stored in the fridge.

4 medium red beets (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock or broth
1 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
8 ounces pappardelle
1/4 cup whole milk or heavy cream
2 ounces pecorino cheese, freshly grated

1. Peel beets and chop into 1/4-inch cubes. Place in a wide sauté pan with butter, salt, stock or broth, wine, apple juice, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until beets are al dente (firm but cooked through), about 1 hour. Remove from heat. You should have some very tasty beets and about 1/2-cup dark red liquid (reduce if necessary).

2. Cook pappardelle according to package instructions, making sure to put plenty of salt in the cooking water. When pasta is nearly ready, heat (or reheat) beets and beet liquid with milk or cream in a pan large enough to hold the sauce and pasta. Drain pasta; add to sauce with beets and toss. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve, sprinkled with grated pecorino.

PER SERVING: 210 cal, 19% fat cal, 5g fat, 3g sat fat, 12mg chol, 9g protein, 34g carb, 3g fiber, 645mg sodium

Recipe provided by Hugo Matheson, chef and co-owner of The Kitchen, an ecoconscious eatery in Boulder, Colorado (www.thekitchencafe.com).