Recipe of the Week: Better than borscht - Spaghetti with Rubies


Once again this week I found myself at the farmer's market loading up on everything I could carry without thinking about what do with all this produce. As I cooked my way through my haul I kept looking at the two bunches of baby sized beets and wondering what would make an interesting main course, rather than using them as the traditional side vegetable. I remembered a cover photograph from an Italian cookbook that I haven't looked at in ages and there it was - Spaghetti with Rubies. This dish was so easy, so delicious and so appealing to the eye that I am adding this recipe to my regular summer repertoire. The recipe calls for baking the beets in the oven and peeling them after, but I peeled them first and then barbequed them in a foil packet with a bit of olive oil. Either way would be fine. I used small, early harvest beets which were sweet and cooked quickly, but you could use any size. If you have good beet greens toss them into the skillet as well. I'm looking forward to making a huge bowl of this for company - I bet it's great cold too. Spaghetti with Rubies

2 bunches beets (about 2 pounds)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
pinch of crushed red peppers or to taste
coarse salt, to taste
1 lb thin spaghetti or linguine

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Trim tops and stems off the beets. Wash and wrap beets in foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until tender. Let cool and then peel and coarsely chop the beets. (personally I would peel them and roast them in olive oil)
3. In a skillet large enough to hold all of the pasta, combine the olive oil, garlic and red pepper. Cook over medium heat for about 30 seconds or until the garlic is fragrant the the oil is sizzling. If you are using the beet tops, add them now and cook until softened. Add the chopped beets and turn them in the oil mixture until just heated through.
4. Cook pasta in a large pot of water until it is almost al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain.
5. Pour the spaghetti into the skillet with the beets. Add some of the cooking water. Simmer over medium heat, constantly turning the pasta with the beets until it is evenly coloured.

I added some really excellent parmesan cheese, although it isn't in the recipe.

This recipe is from A Fresh Taste of Italy by Michele Scicolone

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