I love beets! I confess, though, I’m actually surprised by how many people I talk to who love them, too! It’s sad that they get relegated to mere side dish status or the pickle tray. So vibrant, sweet, earthy and delicious, not to mention healthy, they deserve to be the star of a dish… like this one! I’ve amended the recipe I originally found on Epicurious many years ago in a couple of ways (but for comparative purposes, you can find the original here). Most importantly, I decided to char the beets. Once you peel them (after they’re cooked), it’s okay for some of the blackened bits to remain stuck to the beets – it’ll give a smokier flavour to the sauce. A delicious vegetarian entrée, enriched by the brown butter and Ricotta, this dish is elegant enough for company but easy enough for a Tuesday night at home. Serves 2-4
1 lb/454 g red beets, scrubbed clean but NOT trimmed
1/3 cup/80 mL creamy ricotta cheese
1 large clove garlic, grated or minced (optional and to taste)
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
1 lb/454 g good quality spaghetti (such as Italpasta Total)
6 Tbsp/170 g unsalted butter
1 heaping Tbsp/15+ mL poppy seeds
1 Tbsp/ 15 mL Lift Flavours Pink Peppercorn & Rose Petal Sea Salt, plus a little for garnish
1/4 cup/60 mL pasta water
- Preheat the oven or BBQ to 400°F. Place the beets directly on the grate (if you’re using an oven, you can use a tray lined with parchment; use convection, if available). Roast until a tester easily passes through the beets, about 1 hour, depending on the size of the beets and your individual oven or BBQ (test after about 30 minutes and every 10 after that). Allow to cool.
- While the beets are cooking, combine the ricotta, grated garlic (if using), zest and 1 tbsp/15 mL of lemon juice. Set aside. Note: Depending on the size of lemon, you may have some juice left over to use for another purpose.
- Now, trim and peel the beets and cut into chunks. Add to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process to a rough puree.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions.
- Meanwhile, add the butter to a 10-inch skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook the butter for about 2 minutes until just beginning to brown. Add the poppy seeds and toast for a further 2 minutes. Add the pureed beets and Lift Flavours and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.
- When the pasta is just al dente, add the 1/4 cup pasta water to the skillet. Stir to fully incorporate. Use a wire-mesh skimmer or tongs to remove the spaghetti from the pot and place the noodles directly into the skillet with the sauce. Toss thoroughly with the sauce.
- Divide the spaghetti into equal portions and place on warm plates. Use two soup spoons to form 2-4 small oblong balls of the Ricotta (or however many portions you are serving). Place one on top of each serving and sprinkle with a little extra of the Rose Petal Salt. Serve immediately.