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.
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.