You will love this simple but oh-so-impressive pasta dish, of vibrant scarlet beetroot spaghetti topped with toasted walnuts and scallops. Impressive enough for a dinner party, but simple enough for a week night after work dinner.
There is good reason that pasta is (nearly!) everybody’s favourite. It is quick, easy, endlessly adaptable and relatively frugal, which ticks all my fuss free boxes and makes it perfect for a speedy after work supper.
Pasta is so versatile – you can dress it up or down. When I was at university my two favourite pasta dishes (I hesitate to say recipes) were decidedly dressed down – spaghetti tossed in melted butter with some finely chopped ham, a good sprinkle of cheese and lots of salt and pepper, or penne in creamy sauce of pesto and mayonnaise. Student food at its best bettered only by the cheese and curry powder toastie – for the full effect for this one you need cheap sliced white bread, cheap cheddar and a generic curry powder blend. It’s surprisingly delicious, in a I-really-shouldn’t-but-I-can’t-resist sort of way, and became a firm favourite all those years ago.
A more dressed up pasta dish is this this vibrant scarlet coloured beetroot spaghetti. Now you could make some beetroot pasta from scratch by adding some beetroot powder to pasta dough for flavour and colour, but I’ve used regular store pasta which has been tossed in fried grated beetroot. So simple, but so effective and so much easier than making your own pasta.
Top with some toasted walnuts and a few seared scallops then garnish with some green salad leaves. I added a few beetroot crisps as I’ve been playing with my dehydrator, but you can leave them off, or use a packet of store bought.
Beetroot is one of my favourite vegetables not only because of its glorious colour and earthy sweet richness, it is also rather good for you.
7 things you might not know about beetroot
- Beetroot is a great source of folic acid and a very good source of fibre, manganese and potassium. It also contains nitrates, betaine, magnesium and other antioxidants (notably betacyanin)
- A study has shown that drinking beetroot juice can help with with lowering blood pressure
- Beetroot can be boiled, steamed, or roasted or you can slice the raw root very thinly using a mandolin (mind your fingers!) and eaten raw as beetroot carpaccio
- Don’t throw away the greens! Use the stalks and leaves as you would chard, calvo nero or spinach
- Rub a dollop of toothpaste into your hands to get rid of the stains from preparing beetroot. You can also use lemon juice
- The red colour is used as a natural food colouring. It even has an E-number – E162
Scallops give the illusion of luxury and will always impress, but most supermarket sell bags of frozen scallops, sadly minus the roe, but still delicious (If you do want the roe then you need to buy fresh). When using frozen, take them out of the freezer in the morning and leave covered in the fridge all day to defrost. As with any seafood please make sure that it has been responsibly sourced when you buy.
To make this dish vegetarian, simply leave off the scallops and sprinkle a little crumbled feta over the pasta and beetroot.
When cooking pasta use a large pan, bringing the water to a rolling boil and then add salt and pasta. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of scooping out a cup of the cooking liquid once the pasta is nearly ready. The starchy pasta water can be added to nearly all sauces to thin them down and make them go a bit further, and it will add a lovely silkiness to the texture. It is a simple trick, but one that immeasurably improves pasta dishes and is something that you will soon start to do automatically once you realise what a how well it works.
Beetroot spaghetti with scallops
- 120 g Spaghetti
- 10 ml Olive oil
- 100 g Beetroot ((peeled and grated))
- 25 g Walnuts ((lightly toasted))
- 6 Scallops
- 1 tsp Beetroot crisps
- 10 g herby salad leaves
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add salt and start to cook the spaghetti
- Whilst the spaghetti is cooking add half the oil to a frying pan and saute the beetroot over a medium heat. Add half a cup of the pasta coking water, and season. Allow to simmer to reduce and to make a sauce.
- Fry the scallops in the remainder of the oil, over a medium heat, for about 3 minutes on each side until they are golden brown and cooked through.
- Drain the spaghetti, reserving some the the cooking water, and add the the beetroot. Add a little of the cooking water if needed to coat the pasta. It should turn a beautiful scarlet.
- Serve immediately with the pasta topped with the scallops, walnuts and a few salad leaves and beetroot crisps.