I am, by nature, a colourful person.
I have a penchant for:
- colourful coats
- colouring my hair
- colourful language
So, why has it taken so long for it to occur to me that eating a plateful of pink is one of life’s unsung glories? And I’m not talking the sugary, insipid pink that adorns nouveau-vintage bakeries. I mean magenta and cerise, bold colours that feed the eye as well as the palate.
If you don’t love beetroot then I’m not sure this dish will convince you. If you’ve never had roasted beetroot, then let me try. You know that jammy caramalised thing that happens to onions and roast peppers? That happens to beetroot too. And everything that I suspect that you distrust about beetroot (that distinctive earthy aroma; the memories of half-open vacuum packs, a mocking reminder of abandoned health kicks; borscht) becomes immaterial when you roast beets. It becomes much softer and soothing and tastes less like a punch in the mouth from a forest floor.
There. Convinced enough to try?
Roasted beetroot and walnut tagliatelle
Bunch of raw beetroot
Tub of mascarpone cheese
Three cloves of garlic
A generous handful of shelled walnut halves
A handful of rocket
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to gas mark 6/200c. Wash the beetroot, decapitate their leafy tops and place in a baking tray with plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until tender. (The beetroot that I used were small walnut-sized beets which took about half an hour to roast. Larger ones the size of cricket balls will take about 50-60 minutes.)
Whilst you are waiting for them to roast, have a glass of wine and cook your pasta in plenty of salted water. Drain and rinse in cold water.
Lightly toast your walnut halves in a small pan, for a few minutes (try not to let them colour, you just want to enhance the nutty taste). Put to one side until you are ready to assemble your dish.
Once the beetroot is cooked and cooled, peel and quarter them. Crush the garlic cloves and gently sautee in a glug of olive oil for a few minutes until soft and aromatic. Add in your beetroot, pasta and walnuts and swirl the mascarpone through. Add in the juice of the lemon to loosen up the sauce a little. Finish by stirring in crumbled goat’s cheese and rocket; season to taste; and serve.
A note: If you find that mascarpone makes too claggy a sauce for your liking, creme fraiche would be an excellent substitute here. Too fatty? Try low-fat Greek yoghurt or half-fat creme fraiche. Not naughty enough? Double cream. It also occurs to me that a soft, creamy blue cheese would not be out of place.