You will love this simple but oh-so-impressive pasta dish, with 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 supper.
There is good reason that pasta is (nearly!) everybody’s favourite. It is quick, easy, adaptable and relatively frugal. In short, it ticks all my fuss free boxes and makes it perfect for a speedy after work supper.
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. You can add the starchy pasta water to almost any sauce to thin it down and make it go a bit further. It will also add a lovely silkiness to the texture. This is a simple trick, but one that really improves pasta dishes. It is something that you will soon start to do automatically once you realise how well it works.
Pasta is so versatile – you can dress it up or down. When I was a student, my two favourite pasta dishes 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!
For a more dressed up, grown-up pasta dish, try this this vibrant scarlet beetroot spaghetti with scallops. You could make beetroot pasta from scratch by adding some beetroot powder to pasta dough for flavour and colour. I’ve used dried pasta instead, and tossed it in fried grated beetroot. You can use fresh, as I did, or finely chop the precooked beetroot that comes in long-life vacuum packs. So simple, but so effective and so much easier than making pasta.
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, or pair them with some extra beets and labneh to make the traditional Greek dish of Patzarosalata me Yiaourti – a beetroot salad with yogurt.
- 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
Luxury for Less
Scallops feel luxurious, 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 to defrost. As with any seafood, please make sure that it has been responsibly sourced when you buy.
Top your scallops with beetroot pasta 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.
For an equally delicious vegetarian beetroot spaghetti, simply leave off the scallops and sprinkle a little crumbled feta over the pasta and beetroot. For a fancier effect, warm slices of goat’s cheese under the grill until they start to brown.
How to Make Beetroot Spaghetti with Scallops
Step 1 – Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add salt and start to cook the spaghetti.
Step 2 – While the spaghetti cooks, add half the oil to a frying pan and saute the beetroot over a medium heat. After a few minutes’ cooking time, take half a cup of the pasta cooking water, and season. Allow to simmer to reduce and to make a sauce.
Fuss Free Tip
You can use either grated fresh beetroot, or ready cooked vacuum packed beetroot. I love the packets of cooked beetroot as they are shelf stable for months and perfect for your pantry. You absolutely don’t want to use pickled beets for this!
Step 3 – 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.
Step 4 – Drain the spaghetti, reserving a little of the cooking water. Add the spaghetti to the beetroot sauce. It should turn a beautiful scarlet. Add more cooking water if you need to adjust the consistency.
Step 5 – Serve immediately, topping the beetroot spaghetti with the scallops, walnuts, a few salad leaves and beetroot crisps.
Beetroot spaghetti with scallops
- 120 g Spaghetti
- 10 ml Olive oil
- 100 g Beetroot (peeled and grated, or use precooked from the supermarket)
- 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.
- While the spaghetti cooks, add half the oil to a frying pan and saute the beetroot over a medium heat. After a few minutes' cooking time, take half a cup of the pasta cooking 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 a little of the cooking water. Add the spaghetti to the beetroot sauce. It should turn a beautiful scarlet. Add more cooking water if you need to adjust the consistency.
- Serve immediately, topping the beetroot spaghetti with the scallops, walnuts, a few salad leaves and beetroot crisps.