Pasta cooked in sticky, sweet beetroot juice
I must confess the clever idea of cooking pasta in vegetable juice is not my own; I read about it in an American food magazine on the tube one evening and could hardly wait to get home and try it. As well as turning the noodles a shockingly lovely pink, the reduced juice lends them a sticky vegetable sweetness which works particularly well with creamy, lactic goat’s cheese and bitter toasted walnuts, though that first evening I used a tiny hunk of salty pecorino that had been falling from the fridge door with irritating regularity for some weeks, and that worked just fine too.
400g spaghetti or other pasta of your choice
600ml beetroot juice
8 big handfuls of baby kale or other young greens
200g soft goat’s cheese
Bring a large pan of well-salted water to a rolling boil, then add the pasta. Cook for 5 mins.
Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a dry pan until aromatic, then roughly chop and set aside. Bring the beetroot juice to a simmer in a medium pan.
Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the beetroot juice. Cook for about another 5 mins, until the noodles are al dente (exactly how long will depend on your pasta and your preferences) and the juice is thick—be careful they don’t stick. If it does look a little dry before they’re done, stir in a splash more juice.
Stir in the leaves to wilt, then season well to taste; the juice will be quite sweet, so it will be able to take a generous amount of salt and black pepper.
Divide between bowls and scatter with chopped nuts and blobs of cheese—the cheese can be stirred in by the eater, but it looks prettier pristine and white against the pink pasta. Serve immediately.
Recipe from Felicity Cloake’s The A-Z of Eating: a Flavour Map for Adventurous Cooks (Fig Tree, £25)
Image: Helen Cathcart