Srsly! Well, why not? It just hit me yesterday. I was craving pasta, something light, veggie, summery. And I thought to myself that I've made pasta with so many different veggies, but I've never made one with beets. How could it be bad? So what flavor profile would work for a beet pasta? Dill. Onions. Hmm, this is sounding like a certain delicious summer soup that I love. Borscht. Genius (if I do say so myself).
So how to execute? I didn't want to beets to be cooked to the point where they lost too much texture, but I wanted the pieces of beet to be super small, to completely lose themselves among the pasta, which would inevitably turn the same color as the beets. That way when you took a bite, you may not even see the beets hiding among the noodles, but you'll get that crisp texture. So I broke out the mandoline and used the julienne blade for the thinnest matchsticks I could get. That way, I could saute the beets very quickly and bring them just to the point of tenderness without breaking down too much.
To round out the borscht-y flavor: tons of dill, thinly sliced onions, a touch of hot red pepper, a splash of vinegar for tang, and the crowning touch - a dollop of creme fraiche atop the hot pasta. Yes. Recipe after the jump:
1 pound fettucini
1 bunch beets, about 4 medium
1 medium yellow onion, very thinly sliced into half-moons
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp hot red pepper flakes
3 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup creme fraiche
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. While it is boiling, peel the raw beets and slice into thin matchsticks with a mandoline. You could also grate the beets with a box grater. When the water has come to a boil, add the pasta. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan at medium heat. Add the onions and saute until just translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes on a hot spot in the pan and allow to sizzle in the oil for about 1 minute. Add the beets and saute until just tender, about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper liberally, then add the vinegar and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Add a ladle of pasta water to the beets and allow to simmer until the pasta is done. When the pasta is about 1 minute short of al dente, remove from the water and add to the saute pan. Toss with the beet sauce, adding additional pasta water if it is too dry. Add the dill and toss until incorporated. Serve pasta topped with additional chopped dill and a large dollop of creme fraiche.