Heart Beet Patties with Pecorino Garlic Butter and Beet Greens Pesto

It’s February, one of my oldest friends got engaged on Saturday, one of my other friends is pregnant after two years of wanting to be, and today Tim and I sat on picnic tables in 30-degree weather and took photos of ourselves with a tripod for the cookbook.

I know it’s winter around here, and everyone’s glum about the need for coats and hats and heaters, and I know that it’s even colder in my home state and in the areas north of it, but today I’m feeling happy and hopeful in spite of the non-sunny skies. There is so much joy around me, so much beauty, so much warmth and light in the midst of the cold.

While we were shooting today, I looked at Tim, setting up shots with me, telling me his vision for how something would look and then working with me to make it happen, and I was struck like a bolt with how blessed I am to be doing all of these things with him.

The good and the bad, the overwhelming and the unknown – to be rejoicing with him, to be leaning on him when I’m weak, to be helping him when he is, to be both supporting and supported, to be both loving and loved, to be experiencing the mystery of getting older and feeling new feelings, like a body that goes through cleansing periods or legs that ache when I sit at my computer too long, and to have another person right next to me, holding my hand on the same ride.

I am so thankful for my husband. If I haven’t said it before, I want to say it now: I would never have worked on a cookbook without him; I wouldn’t have wanted to.

Anyway, because all these thoughts are hitting me in early February, they are hitting me alongside all manner of Valentine’s Day paraphernalia, from packaged Valentines to weekend getaway packages to heart-shaped cookie cutters (one of which I bought last weekend for $0.79, hence today’s treats), so maybe it only makes sense that I have hearts on the brain.

I wanted them on my smoothie last week; I wanted them in my lunch a few days later; I’m already dreaming up biscuits and jellos and mini cakes to make with them later.

What happened here was an off-the-cuff, lets-just-play-with-food experiment that created something not quite gnocchi and not quite bread, one that we’re calling beet patties.

They are beautifully deep pink, in that festive way my sentimental heart likes things to be in early February, and they are firm and dense, enough so that you’ll find it much easier to eat them with your hands than utensils, despite what the pictures might imply.

Unlike a lot of beet-infused dough, this one actually tastes like beets, too – in a good way, we promise, sweet and earthy – but, but!, the real crowning glory of this starter-entree-snack is the butter.

The. Butter.

Inspired by a cooking class we took last fall, this butter is garlic meets cheese meets just a little bit of greens, and I’m telling you, I want it on everything I eat from now on.

When the hot patties come out of the oven, all puffed and pretty and firm, you dollop some of this fragrant butter mixture on top, and it immediately starts melting, mingling with the pesto you’ve made from the beet greens, all shiny and rich, digging into the patties and heightening their flavor.

I knew we’d stumbled onto something good when I asked Tim, who was standing next to me by the table as I photographed them, what he would think if he got these at a restaurant. “Would you like them?” I asked him. All he could do was nod with a full mouth.

My favorite thing about this recipe is that it uses up an entire bunch of beets – no saving the greens for later (although, if you wanted to, here’s a great way to use them: sauteed beet greens) –  from the beets grated in the patties to the greens in the butter to the greens/stems used in the pesto.

Actually, that’s not my favorite part. I take that back. My favorite part is the butter. The butter! I told you about a version of this butter back in October, when we topped ricotta gnocchi with it in a Greenville, South Carolina, cooking class. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to share it here. I want it on everything.

Valentine's Day Heart Beet Patties with Pecorino Garlic Butter and Beet Greens Pesto dish on a white, porcelain plate on a linen napkin on a black background.

Heart Beet Patties with Pecorino Garlic Butter and Beet Greens Pesto

  • Author: Shanna Mallon


For the Patties:

  • 3 (12 ounces or 340 g) beets, grated (to make about 3/4 cup grated)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cup (209 g) finely ground semolina flour
  • 1/4 cup (10 g) grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1 teaspoon whole milk

For the Pecorino Garlic Butter:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 112 g) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (36 g) grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1/4 cup (17 g) chopped beet greens
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated

For the Beet Greens Pesto:

  • The remaining greens (and some stems) of 3 beets, chopped (enough to make 2 cups/76 g), plus more for garnish
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1 cup (113) walnuts
  • 1/2 cup (25 g) grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup (120 to 175 ml) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine grated beets, salt, ginger, and pepper. Use your clean hands to work in the flour, right in the bowl, until it’s fully incorporated and the bowl is clean, with everything absorbed into the ball.
  2. Flatten it, fold in Pecorino and milk, and continue working the dough, forming it back into a ball.
  3. Next, flour a large piece of parchment paper, place the dough on top, and use a floured rolling pin to flatten it into roughly a 9″ round–emphasis on roughly here, mine looked more like a 9″ continent–that is 1/4″ thick.
  4. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to firmly cut out hearts (the dough will be stretchy and a little resistant to your taking the hearts out). Place them on the prepared parchment-lined baking sheets as you cut them out; rework dough scraps into another 1/4″-thick slab, and repeat until you have 12 hearts and/or all the dough has been used. If you have a tiny bit of scraps leftover, free form them into a shape and add them to the parchment as well.
  5. Place baking sheets in oven, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until puffed and firm. Do not over bake (this is a preference thing: if you do over bake, the hearts will be even tougher than their firm consistency, but they are still edible, no worries).
  6. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, combine all the ingredients for the Pecorino garlic butter, smashing them together with a spoon or your clean hands (what is it with all the hand smooshing in this recipe? fun project!). Form butter into a ball and set aside (no need to stick in the refrigerator).
  7. To make the optional pesto, which uses up all your beet greens (yay!), combine all pesto ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust with extra salt, lemon juice, or olive oil as you like.
  8. To serve heart beet patties, place a few warm patties on a plate, top with butter, letting it melt all over, add some of the pesto and maybe some torn beet greens as a garnish, and enjoy!

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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

22 thoughts on “Heart Beet Patties with Pecorino Garlic Butter and Beet Greens Pesto”

  1. What a wonderful feeling it must be to work on a project like the cookbook together, and I can only imagine how gratifying it is for you both to share so much professionally and personally. I’m glad that, despite the winter weather back in the U.S., you are happy, hopeful and in love! Gorgeous pictures, as always – but the colors are realy striking in this post.

    • Jess, Most of the time it’s a huge blessing, although I feel obliged to tell you Tim bears the brunt of my nervous breakdowns as a result of our working arrangement, haha. : ) Thanks for your sweet words. I like imagining the weather on the other side of the world, too.

  2. Totally enamoured by the idea of this butter. I can definitely understand the temptation to eat it on absolutely everything! And these little heart shaped delights are the best.

  3. Gorgeous!! Never thought of savory patties in any other shape than then normal imperfect rounds! But these hearts are beauty and love and I’m so happy that you and Tim are working on the cookbook together – there’s a certain successful chemistry between both of u that I’m sure any project (cookbook or other) will turn out well – with plenty of anecdotes and memories formed during the journey!

    thanks for your cheerful joy, friend! Sending love for this month and this upcoming Valentine’s! You both are such a great example!

    • We were so challenged with what to call them. Bread? Biscuits? Firm gnocchi? Haha. We finally settled on patties but really I wish I could have invented something else altogether. They’re chewy and firm and flavorful, and, I don’t know, so good! Thanks for your sweet words, f.

  4. I love this idea! So festive, without all the sugar. And sometimes playing with your food pays off, these patties sound awesome!

    • Oh, thank you so much, Lindsey! Beets are such a wonder in that way — sweet but earthy, full of nutrients and goodness. I need to find more ways to use them, I think!

  5. First – your site redesign looks gorgeous. I’ve been meaning to say that, so there it is.

    Also, these will be on my menu for this week. Absolutely gorgeous, and not at all weird to say I’d rather have someone put a plate of these in front of me for Valentine’s Day than a box of chocolates.

    Hope you don’t mind if I link over to this recipe later today.

  6. AHHHH this recipy is TO Delish to handle 🙂 love your blog and im following now.

    Check out my blog today…my all time fav. lasagna recipy 🙂

    Have a fab week dear

    LOVE Maria at inredningsvis – inredning it’s, Swedish for decor 🙂

  7. Hello there! I made these last night. I didn’t have a heart shaped cookie cutter so they decidedly looked like red snowballs, but that was romantic and lovely all the same. It snowed like crazy over the weekend up here in Canada, so it was nice to have a warm winter something to eat. To my delight, they were definitely more gnocchi like than biscuits, and the butter was amazing! Great recipe; thanks.


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