I saw Nadiya Hussain make her version of what she calls ‘blender beetroot pasta’ on her new show on Netflix, and I was immediately taken by its simplicity, accessibility of ingredients, and if you know me—this gorgeous colour! She uses cooked beetroot, garlic, chilli, lemon juice and dill in her recipe, and I realize now as I type this that there are more differences than overlaps between hers and mine. Either way, she prompted my brain to go off in this direction, so for that, thanks Nadiya.
I like beets in any and all forms but roasting tops that list by a long shot. For its ease—wrap in foil and chuck into the oven—as well as for that sweeter, more robust flavour that only oven baking gives. I’ve played around with this recipe a lot and I’m finally happy with all the elements. The sauce itself is a pesto of sorts – I added cashews for thickness (without it the sauce was just too watery; the milk is here for that very reason too), roasted garlic (because why not. Also, the beets are going into the oven anyway so a few cloves get bunged in with them), red wine vinegar for acidity, and a raw garlic clove for flavour and heat that you can only get from raw garlic. Freshly cracked black pepper is nice here, and is worth getting your pestle and mortar out for if you don’t own a pepper mill (I don’t). The nubbly texture of cracked pepper is a lovely contrast against the sweetness of the beets.
The process itself couldn’t be more straightforward: everything goes into the blender to make what is essentially the sauce. To serve, toss it through cooked pasta, crumble feta over the top, and then you’re basically one step away from ruining a perfectly nice t-shirt with beet stains (my prophetic warning to you).
PASTA WITH ROASTED BEETS & FETA
- 200 grams spaghetti (or other pasta of choice)
- 2 small-medium beets (or 1 large one)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- ¼ cup cashews
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar (see notes)
- 75-100 grams feta cheese, to serve
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180 C.
- Wrap the beets and 3 cloves of garlic in foil and roast for 45-50 mins. You know the beets are cooked when a knife inserted into them goes through without any resistance.
- Cook pasta according to packet instructions. Drain and add to a pot.
- Roughly quarter the beets and add to a blender jar. Squeeze out the roasted garlic and add to the jar. Add the cashews, raw garlic clove, milk, red wine vinegar, and salt. Blend it all together to a smooth purée.
- Add the beet sauce to the cooked pasta and toss to coat. Season with more salt and freshly cracked black pepper. (The nubbly texture of cracked pepper is a nice contrast against the sweetness of the beets here. If you don’t own a pepper mill, coarsely pound in a pestle and mortar/use a blender.) Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Serve with lots of crumbled feta over the top. Best served warm or at room temperature.
- Keeps refrigerated (without the feta) for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to a month.