beetroot sauce (for grains, salads & pasta)

I love beets and have never needed any convincing to enjoy them, so always found it somewhat odd that so many around me seem quite hesitant to embrace them. Happily, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover that whizzing them up into an eye-catching sauce has unwittingly ended up converting more than a few beet-haters in my entourage (more so than any impassioned arguments of mine ever could!).

Whether you adore beets or feel unsure about them, I do hope the fact that you are reading these very words right now means you are sufficiently intrigued to try your hand at making and sharing the recipe below.

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beetroot sauce, for pasta & other uses

makes around 4 servings, depending on portion size

Having pre-cooked beets in the fridge makes preparing this dish all the easier, but worry not if you don’t have any on hand — cooking beets requires very little active time on your part, so don’t let that stop you from preparing and enjoying this dish. Use the sauce with pasta, or toss it through whole grains and/or a roast vegetable + herb + pulse salad for a satisfying lunch, dinner, or even breakfast (who says you can’t eat beets first thing in the morning?).

ingredients

for the sauce

• beetroot, 200g — around 2 medium-sized beets
• carrot
, 60g — around 1 small carrot
• water, approx. 550g (550ml) — cold, from the tap (the exact amount will depend on your chosen cookware)
• garlic, 8g — around 2 medium-sized cloves
• dried chili flakes
,¼ tsp — around 1 very small pinch, with the tips of your fingers
extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tbsp (30ml) — use a measuring spoon for better precision
sea salt, to taste — you can use coarser grains while cooking vs. lighter flakes or crystals at the end for garnishing
• orange zest, ½ tsp— fresh or frozen

for the suggested serving, as pictured

• pasta, 65g per person* — preferably a ridged shape to cling to the sauce better (one that is also short, so you reduce your odds of needlessly splattering of a rather staining sauce onto your lovely clothes)
crumbled feta, ∼1 Tbsp per person — optional 
• fresh dill
, ∼½ Tbsp chopped per person — optional 
• dried chili flakes
, to taste
extra virgin olive oil, to taste
• sea salt
, to taste

*note: if only cooking for one, you can make all the sauce in one go, then use only a quarter of it for one portion of pasta (or half the sauce for two portions of pasta, and so on)

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preparation

for the sauce

1. Clean, then sparingly peel and trim two medium-sized beets and one small carrot, so as to just remove any tough or knobbly bits you’d rather not eat. Halve, then quarter them into ∼3x3cm (1¼”) pieces so they can cook in less time (the carrot pieces can be left a little bigger than the beetroot if you like, as they tend to cook faster).

2. Place the roughly cubed beetroot and carrot into a steam basket, then put the basket into a saucepan. Add 550ml water, or as much as you can pour into the bottom of the pot without it reaching the part of steaming basket that contains vegetables (should be around 2cm, or as long as an index finger’s first phalange, deep).

3. Turn the heat to high so as to bring the water to a boil, then cover the saucepan with a lid in a way that allows a small amount of steam to escape. Reduce the heat to medium-low and leave to steam for approximately 30 minutes, or until each piece of beetroot can easily be pierced with a knife or fork. Note that you may need to top up the amount of water in the pot, so stay vigilant! When done, turn the heat off and keep the lid on the saucepan until ready to blend the veg.

4. While the beetroot and carrot cook, place a small pan on medium-heat. Crush, peel, then thinly slice two medium loves of garlic. Once the pan is warm, add to it two tablespoons of olive oil, the sliced garlic, a small pinch of dried chili flakes, and a small pinch of salt — the salt is there to help prevent the garlic from burning and turning bitter. Let sizzle for 5 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally, then turn the heat off and leave the oil to infuse while the beetroot and carrot cook.

5. Transfer the steamed beetroot and carrot to a blender or immersion blender cup (a tall jar also does the trick with immersion blenders), then add in the infused oil, garlic and chili. Whizz for a few minutes, until very smooth. Stir through half a teaspoon of orange zest, then taste and adjust the amount of salt to your liking.

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for the suggested serving, as pictured

Cook pasta in well-seasoned water, until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain, reserving a small amount of pasta water. Toss the pasta through the sauce, adding a tablespoon or two of the reserved cooking water to help loosen the sauce if necessary (don’t add too much, else you over-season the sauce). Serve hot, then crumble a bit of feta and sprinkle some fresh dill over top. Garnish with a final drizzle of olive oil and season with flaky salt. Enjoy!

 

 

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