Now and then I create a recipe that looks as delicious as it tastes. This linguini with roasted beets is indeed incredibly delicious, but I can’t help being totally mesmerized by the way the dish looks once plated.
I’ve made this recipe many times for special dinners or holiday parties and the conversation at the table always comes to a halt the minute I bring out these colorful plates – a rewarding moment for any cook.
The recipe is simple enough, but the flavors are intense. The julienned beets are sautéed at high heat with the caraway seeds. Beets have a lot of moisture in them, so it takes several minutes for the slices to caramelize. But when they do, they acquire a deep, rich, earthy flavor that’s irresistible. To take that up a notch, I add some balsamic vinegar just before adding the pasta and reduce it until it glazes the beets.
The last touch is the fresh tarragon that’s tossed with the pasta. It picks up on the flavor of the caraway seeds and brightens the dish with its exquisite, fresh aromas. Wishing you and yours a very happy and delicious holiday season!
Food & wine pairing: Le Cigare Volant with beet linguini
Of course, such a striking dish demands to be served with an equally gorgeous wine. I originally paired this colorful linguini with two exceptional wines from Bonny Doon Vineyard: Le Cigare Volant 2003 and 2006. (To read about the wines, and for the tasting notes, click here.) But there are other great options: A Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Rhône in southern France would be exquisite here as well. You could also serve a Grenache or a Syrah.
Linguini with pan-roasted beets, fresh tarragon and caraway
active time: 45 min
- 6 medium red beets – baked
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 1 tablespoon sea salt for the pasta water
- 1 lb (455 g) linguini
- 4 large garlic cloves – skinned and minced
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- tarragon sprigs as garnish
- extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- Step 1: Peel the beets with the back of a knife. Using a mandoline, cut the beets in 1/16” julienne slices. (If you don’t have a mandoline, slice the beets crosswise in 1/8” slices and then cut them in julienned strips.) Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Cook’s note: The beets can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
- Step 2: Heat a large non-stick heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add the oil, caraway seeds and beets. Sauté for 10 to 12 minutes until the beets have caramelized, tossing from time to time (the beet slices will lose their moisture, shrink by half and look very dark around the edges). Remove from heat and set skillet aside.
- Step 3: Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the salt and the pasta. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain well.
- Step 4: While the pasta is draining, return skillet to the stove and heat over high heat. When the beets begin to sizzle, add the garlic and vinegar. Sauté for 1 minute only, until the vinegar has completely evaporated and glazed the beet slices. Add the pasta, reserved pasta cooking water, fresh tarragon, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and toss until the pasta is well coated with the sauce. (It’s while tossing the pasta with the beets that the pasta acquires its gorgeous red color. You’ll marvel at how fast it happens and how intense the color is!) Spoon pasta in bowls. Garnish with tarragon sprig, drizzle with a little olive oil and serve immediately.