A simple spaghetti with baby beetroots and caramelized nuts

I love the simplicity of Italian pasta dishes. Although there are many complex recipes with some sophisticated ingredients, it is so cool that you can make an outstanding dish with only a few simple and cheap but good-quality ingredients. Just to give you few examples: simple and creamy alfredo (maybe one day I will present my vegan version), tomato-based marinara sauce, or the super-simple aglio e olio full of garlic. And thinking about how good and simple Italian cuisine is, an idea of baby beetroot spaghetti popped into my head. I realized that I had bought a bunch of baby beetroots with leaves for the first time this year and immediately imagined intensely red spaghetti pasta with garlic, lots of lemon juice, a hint of chilli and crunchy caramelized walnuts. This is how this crazy-looking seasonal dish was created.

The recipe below is for 3 dinner portions

  • 300g spaghetti pasta

  • 1 bunch of baby beetroot (with leaves and few beets)
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)
  • 4 big garlic cloves (or 5/6 smaller ones)
  • 4 tbsps of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 pinch of chilli flakes

  • 2 handfuls of walnuts
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

  • Optional: 1 tbsp of capers, rocket leaves
  1. Wash the beetroot thoroughly, cut off any damaged pieces. There’s no need to peel baby beets, just cut them into thin slices and then into long sticks. Cut beetroot stems and leaves into smaller pieces and separate them from the cut beets.

  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Fry sliced garlic cloves with chilli flakes for 1 minute.

  3. Add the cut beetroot to the pan, fry for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the leafy part of the beetroot, a teaspoon of salt and a small amount of water (about 50ml). Simmer covered for about 10 minutes.

  4. In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large pot in lightly salted water. I recommend cooking the pasta al dente or even a minute less than indicated on the packaging (for me it was 6 minutes). In the next step the pasta will absorb the beet sauce and will get a little softer anyway.

  5. Add the juice and grated zest of a whole lemon to the pan with beetroot. Optionally: add 1 tablespoon of capers (best to cut them into smaller pieces)

  6. Mix the strained pasta thoroughly with the beautifully red beet sauce. Tastes best when freshly cooked with a glass of red wine.

Crunchy, sweet & salty walnuts

  1. Roast two handfuls of walnuts for 3/5 minutes in a dry pan.

  2. Add 50ml water, a tablespoon of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt. Fry and stir for the last minute until the water evaporates.

Serve the pasta topped with nuts, optionally with rocket leaves, extra olive oil and more lemon juice. Buon appetito!