Among the highlights of my big New York birthday was dinner at Lupa. I haven’t been to Lupa in ages – not since right after college – and our meal back in February had me vowing not to wait so long before our next trip.
Lupa is a small spot. It’s long and narrow, and waiters constantly are squeezing by your table and muttering polite “excuse me”s under their breath as they navigate the cramped quarters. Apparently, Lupa has grown tremendously popular over the past several years; I’ve heard from friends that even weeknights have long waits.
Lucky for us, that Saturday night, we coasted straight to the back of the restaurant, tucked ourselves into a little table, and almost immediately got to work on a sampling of their verdure. That night, it was citrus-braised salsify that I’ve tried to recreate twice (good, not quite there); broccoli with burrata and chili; and beets coated in a smooth, green pistachio sauce, finished with a light vinaigrette. I took one bite, cooed, and started scheming about what it would take to get those beets on my home table.
Apparently, it wouldn’t take much. A quick search online turned up a couple other folks who’d tried their hands at the recipe, so I didn’t start from scratch. A couple nips and tweaks later, I had jewel-like beets, draped in silken pistachio, and as gorgeous to behold as they were delicious to eat. Quick, before asparagus and artichokes show up at the market, and weeks and weeks of nothing but beets become a faint memory: Make these beets.
Beets with Pistachio Sauce
Inspired by a meal at Lupa
1 lb. beets, rinsed, greens removed
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) water
2 tablespoons pistachio oil or olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wrap beets in foil and poke a couple holes in the foil with a fork or knife. Set wrapped beets on a baking sheet, transfer to the oven, and bake until tender, 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on size. Remove beets and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the pistachio sauce; in a food processor or blender, combine pistachios, 2 tablespoons pistachio or olive oil, and 3 tablespoons water. Blend until smooth, adding the remaining water if necessary; you want the pistachio sauce to be thick, but pourable. If you prefer the sauce very smooth, press through a medium-fine mesh strainer. I did this, and I think it’s worth the extra effort.
Next, make the red wine vinaigrette: Combine red wine vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt, and pepper, and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.
Peel the beets under running water; their skins should slide off easily. Cut the cooled beets into quarters or big chunks (depending on size), and toss with half the red wine vinaigrette, adding more to taste. Transfer to the serving platter, spoon the pistachio sauce over top, and serve.