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in the kitchen with: rigetta klint’s beetroot pesto

by Kristina Gill

Get a head start on your spring/summer meal planning with this week’s beetroot pesto recipe and an accompanying rye bread with sourdough recipe. Fashion designer Rigetta Klint shared two of her favorite recipes with us because they embody both her love of simple yet flavorful foods and her Nordic heritage. Because cooked beets freeze well, you can double this recipe and keep half of it in the freezer in one jar or frozen first in an ice tray for mini-portions, then kept in a sealed container. You might also try one of the other pesto recipes we’ve featured on In The Kitchen With like sage pesto, pistou or basil pesto. I always have a variety of pestos and other quick-thawing foods in the freezer that I can take out in the morning for an easy lunch or supper later in the day! — Kristina

About Rigetta: Danish-born Stockholm-based designer Rigetta Klint is founder and creative manager of the virtual department store SLOWFASHIONhouse.com. Rigetta Klint carefully selects the brands and products based on her vision. The SLOWFASHIONhouse presents a collection of items ranging from perfectly scented perfumes to clothing and furniture. You can follow Rigetta Klint’s daily inspiration and ideas on fashion, design and slow life through her newsletter.

CLICK HERE for the full recipe after the jump!

Beetroot Pesto
Serves 4

  • 1 pound beets, cooked and peeled
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 ounces almonds
  • 2 ounces grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • sea salt
  • 1/4 cup plus a tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Note: If you prefer a sweeter taste, scrub and trim the tops from the beets and roast them in a foil-covered pan at 400ºF/200ºC until fork tender, about 1 hour.


1. Roughly chop the beets and run them in a food processor or blender with the garlic, almonds, grated parmesan and sea salt.

2. With the blender running, gradually add the olive oil. Keep and serve refrigerated.

3. Use beetroot pesto exactly as you would use traditional pesto: over roasted vegetables, with pasta, in risotto, or even better, serve with home-baked rye bread.

I got this recipe from my dear friend Katrine Klinken’s cookbook Danish Open, a small masterpiece of traditional cooking renovated and set in a modern context.

Note from Kristina: In an attempt to translate the measurements into imperial measures, you will notice a lot of odd-looking numbers in the recipe below. For best results, I suggest using a scale and liquid measuring cup with metric units.

Rye Bread (with Sourdough)

For the Sourdough:

  • 1/5 cup (1/2 dl) ymer or other soured whole milk product (yogurt must be diluted with water)
  • 1 + 1/5 cup (1.5 dl) water
  • 1/5 cup (1/2 dl) coarse organic rye flour, freshly ground if possible
  • 1 + 1/5 cup (1.5 dl) standard organic rye flour, freshly ground if possible
  • 1/5 ounce (5 g) yeast
  • 2 tbsp. sea salt


1. Mix all ingredients and leave for 24 hours at room temperature or for five days in the refrigerator.

2. Sourdough will keep for one week in the refrigerator and can be frozen. If the sourdough doesn’t seem active enough, 1/5 to 2/5 ounce (5–10 g) of yeast may be added to the dough on day 1.

For the Rye Bread Dough:

  • 1 portion sourdough, approx. 1/2 quart (1/2 litre)
  • 1 quart (1 litre) water or dark beer
  • 1/2 tbsp. coarse salt (but not first time the sourdough is used)
  • approx. 2.5 lb (1.2 kg) organic rye flour (for grainy rye bread, use 50% cut rye grains)
  • 1 tbsp. butter in 1/5 cup (1/2 dl) warm water


Day 1: Mix sourdough with water, salt and 1 and 3/4 pounds (750 g) rye flour. Keep 1/2-quart (1/2-litre) dough 
for the next sourdough, sprinkle with 1/2 tbsp. salt and refrigerate. Put the rest of the rye bread dough in the refrigerator overnight.

Day 2: Mix the rest of the rye flour thoroughly into the dough. Put the dough in a 4.4-lb (2-litre) bread tin, filling it 2/3. Prove for a couple of hours until the dough reaches the top of the tin. Bake at 175°C/350°F for approximately two hours. A meat thermometer inserted in the middle should register at least 98°C/208°F. Brush the loaf with a butter/water mixture and cool on a cooling tray. It tastes best the following day. Rye bread keeps best in the refrigerator.

Photography by Kristina Gill. Natural-colored towel and blue and white thick-striped towel available through Karin Eriksson; round plate by Sabine Csampai; blue and white dotted napkin from John Lewis; casserole from Mamie Gateaux; oval platter by Astier de Villatte; oak tablet by Andrea Brugi; all other items flea market/eBay finds.

Why Rigetta Chose This Recipe
I love beetroot pesto because it’s colorful, it’s tasteful and it’s easy. It’s a success every time I serve it, and I love success! And I love to cook with cheap, basic ingredients.

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  • i love this idea in theory but it’s like that purple ketchup they came out with way back when…i don’t think i could actually get past the colour (i sometimes even have trouble with the red nacho chips)

    i know, it’s a weird issue. this is so pretty though!

  • Awww, Dwight would be proud…
    I’m not a beet fan but it does look very pretty on the plate. Great ideas for beet lovers… like Dwight ;-)

  • @isavirtue – Poor beets! They suffer such great discrimination! Perhaps, though, you could try the recipe with a different colored beet? Maybe yellow?

  • So inspiring! I LOVE beets and never would have thought to make a pesto. Plus that color is fantastic. Thanks!

  • Love it! How could you not want to eat something that’s hot pink? I bet it’s really tasty too.

  • That color is incredible!! I’m on a mission to eat more beets this year, and this is something I’d never have thought of doing with them.

  • Maybe it’s just me, but the first picture looks like a plate of worms! This would be awesome for a gross-out Halloween dinner!

  • Exposing my dorkness here, my first thought when I saw the pasta was, “Oh look! D*S made Klingon qagh!”

    I’ll show myself out now…

  • This looks creatively delicious! I loveee the idea. Thanks for sharing! It also looks like a sophisticated dish but a simple recipe. LOVE those! Will have to try this next weekend… perhaps when my friend comes in town to visit. Thanks!

  • I seem to be missing something- I suspect this is a cultural thing….how would you be cooking the beetroot if NOT roasting it? Boiled whole but peeled after?

  • @helen – yes, some British recipes I’ve seen for beets call for boiling them, or using the pre-cooked ones at the store, or a hybrid of cooking between the two, boiling first to soften up, then “finishing” in the oven. I guess it depends on the final use?

  • When I first saw this I thought it was a heaping plate of earthworms (like Lynz).
    Maybe it’s because I am a gardener and have spring fever.
    I would still love to try it though, being a huge fan of both beets and pesto!

  • that is gorgeous & looks easy enough for me to make! :) now i know what to do with those beets that are sitting in fridge. thanks!!

  • I made this last night for some friends and we loved it! It’s sweet and earthy, but the garlic and parmesan balance it out. It’s unusual and delicious. Thanks Rigetta!

  • Bought beets at the farmer’s market this morning. Made this pesto for lunch–what a delicious and wonderfully peculiar recipe. Thank you.

  • The photography for the beet pasta is over-the-top. What a fantastic food stylist ! I think these photios are worthy of framing and hanging. Love the spoon and fork. I will try the recipe as well.

  • Don’t know how I feel about purple-pink noodles…and I’m the girl that puts half a bottle of neon green food dye in vanilla cupcakes!

  • I made a variation on this a couple of years ago, and honestly loved the fact that it looked like I was eating a plate of brains. I can’t wait to have kids so I can make this for them. This is assuming I have kids who, like me, like eating stuff that looks gross.

  • Made the pesto tonight & served over pasta for dinner. Tasty, but a little sweet. Next time (there will be a next time) I’ll try with more pecorino; a little more bite to set off the sweetness of the beets.

  • ok. that was delicious! definitely keeping this recipe on file. thanks! I didn’t have almonds so I used hazelnuts instead. amazing and so so pretty.

  • I make this today and tried it on rye bread, really yummy! I mistakenly added extra garlic but it was fine. It is very sweet, I would add more cheese to it but I didn’t have more. The color and texture is amazing and so unique! I’ve sent the recipe to 4 people because I love it so much and keep talking about it. Love.

  • I made this 2 days ago, right after I read this post… I. LOVE. IT!
    I always keep beets and parsnips in my fridge for roasting with potatoes and sweet potatoes…And since I love pesto, I knew this would be great! I love it as a spread on triscuit rosemary and olive oil crackers for a small afternoon snack, and also as a dip for carrots and celery. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • How long does this pesto keep ?

    Im making it as we speak! Adding some fresh coriander, toasted pinenuts, and some goat cheese for a pasta sauce :)

  • @Tiffany – I’ve found it doesn’t last too long. If you’re not going to eat it all in a few days, better to freeze in small batches what you won’t eat immediately.

  • I have to try this – I make a sunflower-arugula pesto which has a decent spice and earthy nuttiness. Love the color of this!

  • Just made this yesterday for a beetroot themed dinner, because I am cool (ha!). My god it was delicious! I followed it with a beetroot chocolate cake for dessert, so I boiled the beets for both at the same time- easy. I love it when food looks as fun and pretty as it tastes! Soooo tasty topped with parmesan and so pretty- thanks for sharing!

  • Finally set aside a moment to try this recipe, and it is the most delicious thing I’ve made to date. Plus it is beautiful to look at.

    Few pointers for those that will try (or want to try again)… a) if you plan to bake your beets, make sure you line the bottom of the pan. otherwise you will spend a lot of time trying to get the stains of. trust i soaked for 24 hrs and i still have spots. b) if you’re working with an inexpensive blender. make the beets the very last thing you blend. i put in the olive oil with the almonds first, then the seasonings, and last the beets. the issue is the almonds, if you put it last, you may not give them a good blend. as they do get stuck in the thickness of the pesto. c) i didn’t add parm to mine, because i like to control the amount of cheese i eat. if you’re the same way, it will still taste great w/o it, and you can add parm cheese on top as an occasional treat. ;)

  • I just tried this recipe with the kind of beets that have an orange peel and a white inside. I threw in a few carrots as well. The color was more like a pastel coral. It looks like pesto al salmone. It’s a wonderful vegetarian recipe, very easy to make. I also liked the unexpected sweetness the beets provide to the dish. Thank you for sharing!