Happy Valentine's Day!

Photos by  Zachary Cross

Photos by Zachary Cross

As you are probably well aware, Valentine’s Day in the U.S. is pretty commercialized, with red in the form of candy, flowers, and cards all over stores. You can celebrate with something fun and pink or red while still using local ingredients.

I’m pretty sentimental about Valentine’s Day because it was my first date with my future husband. It was an awkward though auspicious evening. Thirty years later I can celebrate with Jeffrey and the kids that it all worked out well in the end!

In our family we celebrate the day with fun foods, often in shades of pink (such as pink mashed potatoes). It’s an easy color to create with food, from raspberries and cherries to beets. Apparently if you are patient, you can even color foods a true red with beets.

When I saw Easy Bistro’s beet panna cotta I knew I had to make some. Not that I think I can match theirs! But it’s pretty and pink and can be made at home.

Beets are plentiful right now, and should be well into spring. They range in color from a deep red, which will give your dessert a bright purple-pink color, to bright red, pink, and also orange and yellow. The inside of your beets may different from the outside, too! In addition to solid-color beets, some beets are striped on the inside, looking especially fun cut into rounds.

Save the greens from your beets. They cook up like other greens, with the addition of a dark pink color if you use dark red beets. You can even make a savory version of beet panna cotta that uses the greens, too.  

Panna cotta is Italian for cooked cream and generally a dessert of cream thickened with gelatin. Faith Durand, via The Kitchn, calls it “...the perfect dessert.” She’s says, despite being traditionally cream and gelatin based, it can be made with dairy-free milks, and even vegan with a gelatin replacement. And it’s easily made gluten-free as the ingredients are not usually ones that contain gluten. Eggs are not necessary for the panna cotta itself. Finally, it can be flavored pretty much however you want. Or make it plain and serve it with the sauce of your choice.

There were plenty of recipes on the internet for beet panna cotta to go around. It appears that Easy Bistro’s is accompanied by orange but most of the ones I found online were paired with lemon. The tangy flavor makes for a pleasant contrast for the earthiness of the beets. The recipe I’ve used has plenty of cream, butter, and eggs, but if you cook dairy or egg free I saw plenty of recipes with coconut cream instead of the dairy cream and gelatin instead of eggs.

As you can see, the panna cotta turned a bright and dark shade of pink. I imagine lighter beets would be a lighter pink and the orange or yellow ones would give you a yellow tone, though I have not tested them. Note that I used regular lemons instead of Meyer lemons. Meyer lemons are occasionally available at Whole Foods if you want to give them a try.

If you want to work on this dish ahead of time the recipe notes that it can be made up to three days before serving. For serving parfait glasses show off the brilliant pink, though I couldn’t resist trying it in a heart-shaped pan as well. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Beet Panna Cotta and Meyer Lemon Mousse

From bon appétit
6 Servings

Beet Panna Cotta
1⁄2  pound red beets, peeled, cut into 1⁄2” pieces
2 cups heavy cream
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
3 tablespoons honey
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Meyer Lemon Mousse
1 tablespoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest
1⁄2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces, divided
1⁄2 cup sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1⁄2 cup chilled heavy cream
Special Equipment
Six 8-ounce glasses or ramekins


Beet panna cotta
Bring beets, cream, and salt to a simmer over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer very gently until beets are tender, 25–30 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, combine gelatin and 2 Tbsp. cold water in a blender; let sit 5 minutes for gelatin to soften.
Transfer beets and their cooking liquid to blender; add honey and vanilla and purée until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; discard solids.
Divide purée among glasses and chill until set, 31⁄2–4 hours.
Do Ahead: Panna cotta can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

Meyer lemon mousse
Bring lemon zest and juice, 1⁄4 cup butter, and 1⁄4 cup sugar to a simmer over medium heat in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat.
Whisk egg yolks, egg, and remaining 1⁄4 cup sugar in a small bowl until pale and thick, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot lemon mixture into egg mixture. Transfer back to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until curd is thickened and whisk leaves a trail, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining 1⁄4 cup butter, whisking until melted and curd is smooth. Transfer curd to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto surface. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours.
When ready to serve, whisk cream in a small bowl to soft peaks and gently fold into curd. Spoon mousse over panna cotta.
Do Ahead: Lemon curd can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Recipe by Odd Duck, Austin
Nutritional Content
Calories (kcal) 650 Fat (g) 56 Saturated Fat (g) 34 Cholesterol (mg) 330Carbohydrates (g) 34 Dietary Fiber (g) 1 Total Sugars (g) 31 Protein (g) 6 Sodium (mg) 280

Printable recipe here