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Scarlet Speghetti with Anchovies, Walnuts and Cripsy Breadcrumbs

Scarlet Spaghetti with Anchovies, Walnuts and Crispy Breadcrumbs

Renée Robinson

Does Brilliantly Colored Beet Flavored Pasta Sound Good to You?

I’ve seen recipes for brilliantly colored pasta, but had never tried it myself. While I love beautiful food, I’m not interested in colorful food simply for the sake of the color. It’s the beet juice used in this that most interested me. I was hopeful the flavor would penetrate the pasta, otherwise, what’t the point? Using Nigella Lawson’s technique of first cooking the spaghetti in boiling salted water for 5 minutes and then finishing it in seasoned beet juice made the most sense to me.

Before cooking the pasta, I had everything else ready to go. While thinking about the earthy and sweet flavor of beets, I couldn’t get anchovies out of my mind. Of course, I’d eat anchovies with almost anything, but I thought they’d be really good here. I minced a full tin, melted them into extra virgin olive oil with a little garlic and pepper flakes. I then crisped up a couple cups of fresh breadcrumbs in butter and oil, chopped a bunch of parsley and toasted walnuts, zested and juiced a lemon, and was ready to go.

After draining the partially cooked pasta, I added it to a pot of simmering beet juice, to which I’d added a little salt and some lemon juice. It took about another 8 minutes or so to finish cooking the pasta. At that point there was only a little bit of beet juice left in the bottom of the pan. The pasta absorbed most all of it and was perfectly cooked. The taste was exactly as I’d hoped. Each strand was fully infused with the flavor of beets. I used a bottle of beet juice for this and think it’s very important that the only ingredients were beets, and nothing else. It matters here because the pasta is only going to be as good as the quality of the beet juice.

Aerial View of Scarlet Speghetti with Anchovies, Walnuts and Cripsy Breadcrumbs

I tossed in the anchovy oil, the walnuts, parsley, and some of the bread crumbs, saving the rest for garnishing. At the last minute I thought some snipped chives would be good on it and added them, along with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and the reserved lemon zest. Wow. What a scrumptious dish this is. Nigella likes hers served cold with lime, sesame oil, soy sauce and ginger. I’ve not doubt that would be delicious, too, but there’s something about the combination of beets, anchovies, and walnuts that really spoke to me. I will be making this again and again. I hope you’ll feel the same way about it.

Scarlet Spaghetti with Anchovies, Walnuts, and Crispy Breadcrumbs

Recipe by Renée Robinson



Spaghetti cooked in beet juice creates this brilliantly colored pasta. But adding some anchovies melted into warm olive oil, crispy breadcrumbs, toasted walnuts, fresh chives , and lemon zest ups the delicious factor.

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  • 2 cups fresh coarse breadcrumbs

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salted butter

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • kosher salt

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 ounce tin of anchovies, drained

  • 1 large clove garlic, grated

  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti

  • 1 3/4 cups beet juice

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted and coarsely chopped

  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

  • black pepper, freshly ground

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives


  • Melt butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and a pinch of salt. Sauté the crumbs until crisp and golden brown - about 8 minutes, being careful to not let them burn. The larger bits of bread won’t get as dark as the smaller crumbs. That’s fine because they will still be crisp. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Add 1/3 cup of olive oil to a small saucepan. Warm over medium low heat, add the minced anchovies, grated clove of garlic, and hot pepper flakes. Stir until the anchovies have more or less melted into the oil. Remove from the heat and reserve.
  • Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. In the meantime, put the beet juice, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a pot big enough to hold the pasta, and bring to a simmer right before the pasta is through boiling in the salted water.
  • Drain the pasta and add it to the pot of beet juice. Adjust the heat so the liquid bubbles. Toss the pasta occasionally and cook it for approximately another 8 minutes or so until it is cooked to the al dente stage. There should only be a small amount of beet juice left in the pan. The pasta should have absorbed almost all of it.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the anchovy oil, walnuts, 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs, and parsley. Taste for seasoning.
  • Place in a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining breadcrumbs, lemon zest, chives, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!

8 Responses

  1. Excited to try cooking for the first time. Thought this would be a great place to start! Thanks.

    1. Hi there, Jason! I just love to hear this and hope you enjoyed it. It’s a very tasty recipe. You are so very welcome! Please let me know how you liked it! Thank you!

  2. I made the pasta from scratch, using Beet Juice for the liquid, and cooked in the lemon zest infused beet juice. I also made my breadcrumbs by pulsing to crumb saltines & triscuits, sauteed in lemon infused olive oil with a healthy dash of Verdure’s Bourbon Street Seasoning. It was all awesome! (Although next time i’ll make the pasta with an egg and a dash of oil a part of the cup of liquid.) For some of the leftovers i took some goat cheese slices, dredged in the ‘breadcrumbs’ and sauteed them as well. Keeping this recipe, soo delicious.

    1. Terry, this all sounds fabulous! Good on you for making the pasta from scratch. I’ve yet to make homemade beet pasta, but I’m sure it was great. I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe!!

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