My food processor is one of the most useful tools in my kitchen. I use it regularly to grind up cookies for pie crusts, mix cold butter and flour for biscuits, purée soups, chop salsas, and grate potatoes for hash browns—you name it!
I love my food processor, but sometimes it’s just a bit too big or too heavy to use for small batch recipes. If you’re making a lot of pesto or any other large batch recipe, the food processor is the perfect tool. For smaller recipes, I’ll show you something new!
Enter the new KitchenAid® Mini Food Processor. Not only is it basically the cutest thing ever, but it’s the ideal tool for small batches of just about anything. With a 3.5 cup capacity, it is perfect for small batches of pesto and for everyday use. Although it’s tiny, it still has the power to quickly chop, mix, and purée.
I also love how light and easy to transport it is, since my larger food processor is so heavy! I can lift this with one hand.
I set out to create a unique pesto recipe using this Mini Food Processor, and this vegetarian power bowl full of plant-based awesome is the result. With a base of hearty barley, sweet roasted beets, and savory roasted mushrooms, all tossed with a waste-nothing batch of flavorful beet green pesto, this bowl is downright brilliant.
We used a mix of golden and red beets (because they are just so darn pretty), as well as a mix of wild mushrooms including shiitake and oyster.
If you can’t find beets with greens still attached, swiss chard is the closest flavor-wise, but you could also use kale or spinach or even straight up basil for a more classic pesto. My philosophy is you can pretty much make pesto with anything green.
We blanch the beet greens first to remove any undesirable bitterness. Simply trim the greens (removing the large thick stem from the center). Submerge in boiling water for 30 seconds, then transfer with tongs to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.
Once cool, squeeze all the water out of the greens, then add them to your food processor to begin making your pesto.
In addition to the blanched beet greens, the pesto also features fresh basil and parsley (to help offset the earthiness of the beet greens), pine nuts, orange zest, garlic, honey, and a splash of white wine vinegar.
Pulse to chop, then add olive oil and pulse a few more times for a rustic consistency or more for a smoother pesto.
The result is a unique and flavorful pesto that you can put on just about anything: from pasta to fish to these hearty vegetarian barley bowls.
The beets themselves are coated with oil, salt and pepper, and then wrapped in foil and roasted until fork tender. This usually takes about an hour, more if you have particularly large beets on your hands.
Once roasted, the skins will practically slide off when simply rubbed with a paper towel (one of my favorite kitchen tricks; it is so much easier than trying to battle with raw beets and a vegetable peeler).
Both the roasted beets and the pesto can be made a few hours ahead of time and served at room temperature.
In addition to the pesto and roasted beets, these bowls amp up the flavor with savory roasted mushrooms, which, when you’re trying to create a hearty and satisfying vegetarian main dish, mushrooms are about as meaty as they come.
We roast ours with olive oil, fresh thyme, and salt and pepper until they are practically crispy and packed with savory and salty flavor.
The sprinkle of goat cheese on top is optional, and while I think it is the perfect topping, without it, this recipe is completely vegan. But you certainly won’t miss the meat here.
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Beet Pesto Barley Bowl with Wild Mushrooms
Makes 4 main servings; 6 side servings
For the bowl
1 cup pearl barley, cooked according to package instructions (you can also use quinoa or bulgar or whatever base grain you’d like!)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces mixed wild mushrooms (such as oyster, shiitake, etc.), trimmed and coarsely chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crumbled goat cheese, for topping (optional)
For the pesto
1 bunch beets with greens (3-4 medium beets, any color)
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 large garlic cloves
1 tablespoon pine nuts, lightly toasted, plus more for topping
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Position two oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 400° F.
Cook pearl barley according to package instructions. Drain and set aside to cool.
Wash and trim beets; set greens aside. Place beets in the center of a piece of aluminum foil, two beets per square of foil. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and rub all over beets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Gather foil around tops of beets to form a packet, with the opening at the top to prevent leakage. Place packets on a cookie sheet and roast for 50-60 minutes or until beets are fork tender.
Carefully open tops of foil to release steam, and let cool for about 10 minutes. When beets are cool enough to handle, rub skins off using a paper towel. Slice into 3/8″ slices and then cut slices into cubes.
While beets are roasting, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut thick stems out of beet greens and discard. Blanch greens for 30 seconds until bright green, then transfer to an ice bath.
Drain, squeezing out as much liquid as possible from the greens, and place in the bowl of your KitchenAid® Mini Food Processor along with the basil, parsley, garlic, pine nuts, honey, orange zest, vinegar, and salt. Pulse 3 or 4 times to chop. Scrape down sides as needed, then add olive oil and pulse a few more times to combine.
Toss mushrooms with 1/4 cup olive oil, fresh thyme, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring once, until mushrooms are golden brown and nearly crispy.
To assemble, toss barley with about 2/3 of pesto mixture. Divide among serving bowls. Top with cubed beets, roasted mushrooms, crumbled goat cheese, and a sprinkle of pine nuts if desired.
Serve warm or at room temperature with remaining pesto on the side.
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*