Rigatoni w/ roasted beets, walnut pesto, goat cheese and arugula

*at Fireworks we often prepare this dish with roast duck which gives it a very nice earthiness. We roast and pull the meat from legs, but any duck meat would work well.

2 medium size red beets
1 bunch cleaned arugula
6-8 oz good quality goat cheese
4 T walnut pesto (see recipe below)
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 lb rigatoni
Extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan or Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash beets and do not dry them. Sprinkle them with a little oil and wrap them in foil. Bake until a knife goes easily through. When cool enough to handle, peel and cut into 3/4 inch cubes.

Add rigatoni to a generous amount of boiling salted water and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a little pasta water and do not rinse. Meanwhile in a sauté pan, add olive oil and garlic over medium heat. When garlic softens, add beets and cook mixing until beets are sizzling a bit and covered in garlic. Add hot rigatoni to pan with 1/4 cup of pasta water and heat through. Turn flame off and add pesto, arugula and goat cheese. Mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Top with Parmesan or Romano cheese and serve.

Walnut pesto:

1 lb shelled walnuts lightly toasted in the oven
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
3 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in bowl of food processor fitted with steel knife blade and pulse until you have a very coarse paste. Add additional olive oil if too dry.