This fantastic pink pasta dish is a wonderful special occasion treat. Serve it to your Valentine or try it as an elegant first course for a dinner party. Or you could just make it on a Tuesday to cheer yourself up. The sweet earthiness of the beet plays beautifully off the smoky salmon and salty feta to create a wow flavour sensation. Plus, it just looks beautiful - art on a plate. (Skip to recipe.)
I've loved beets since I was a child and have always grown them in our garden. My kids have all loved them too. I remember a friend visiting for dinner with her young family when our kids were little. I had boiled a huge pot of beets, peeled them, and set a large bowl of the cooked whole beets on the table. She stood, open-mouthed, as each of our kids stuck a fork into a beet and plopped one on their plate. It was incomprehensible to her that young kids would eat beets so willingly.
But why not? Beets are sweet and slightly earthy. They look cool and have that awesome colour. They're such a versatile vegetable.
Raymond and I don't usually make a big deal out of celebrating Valentine's Day - preferring to have a romantic dinner out when the mood strikes us and when restaurants aren't overcrowded because the whole world decided to celebrate love and romance on this one particular day. It is sometimes nice, though, to have a bit of a special dinner at home, maybe with a glass of nice rosé wine and a sweet touch of dessert. Maybe I'll light some candles and play some Neil Diamond in the background. The stage is set.
On the menu is this stunning pasta - I love its pink colour and rich decadent flavour. Smoked salmon makes the fettuccine extra special and imparts a rich flavour that complements the sweet earthy beets, which seem to melt into the luscious sauce. Little pops of tanginess from the pickled capers and a salty kick from the feta cheese add a surprise to delight your taste buds. The whole dish is mellowed by a swirl of silky cream.
'Pink Pasta' is rich and complex and extra-special. Butter, cream, smoked salmon, cheese. If you're treating your loved one, this is no time to go for 'light' or calorie-reduced. Go all out and enjoy the indulgence of real ingredients cooked with love. Dine in and make any day a Valentine's Day.
It Doesn't Take Much Time to Whip up Two Plates of Beautiful Pink Pasta for You and a Special Someone
Just cook up a pot of pasta. While it's cooking, peel and shred a knobbly old beet to reveal its glowing jewel-toned interior.
Sauté it up with a knob of butter and some onion.
Then swirl in some capers and cream. By the time your pasta's done, so is your sauce. Toss it all together, and watch the beets magically turn your pasta a most deep and delicious shade of pink. The little beet shreds work their magic and them seem to just disappear into the sauce, like a poof of the magicians's smoke. Add a few slices of silky smoked salmon and a crumble of feta cheese. Shower on some fresh dill and pour the wine!
Love is a bowl of pink pasta.
* * * * *
- ½ lb (225gms) uncooked fettuccine noodles, gluten-free or regular
- 1 medium beet (~2½/6.5cm diameter) (1 packed cup when shredded)
- ½ medium onion
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ¼ cup dry white vermouth or dry white wine
- ½ cup (120ml) heavy cream
- 3.5 oz (100gms) smoked salmon slices (about ½ cup, packed)
- 1 tablespoon capers
- ½ cup (60gms) crumbled feta cheese, plus a bit extra for garnish
- chopped fresh dill or parsley for serving - optional
Set a large pot of salted water on to boil. (I use 1 teaspoon salt.) When it boils, add the fettuccine and cook for one minute less than the package recommends.
While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.
Peel the beet with a vegetable peeler, leaving the stem intact for a handhold while grating it. Shred the beet on the large holes of a cheese grater. Dice the onion.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the shredded beet, diced onion, salt, and pepper, and cook until the beets are wilted, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the chicken broth and the vermouth or wine. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cream and keep warm until the pasta is finished cooking.
Reserve a few thin slices of smoked salmon to garnish the finished pasta, chop the rest into large chunks.
When the pasta is one minute short of being al dente (you still want it to have a good firmness to it), drain it and add it to the beets. Toss to coat the pasta strands and cook for one minute. Remove from the heat and add the smoked salmon, capers, and ½ cup of feta cheese. Toss gently to distribute everything.
Serve immediately, garnished with the reserved smoked salmon strips, feta crumbles, and chopped dill or parsley.
Serves 2 as a main course, or 4 as a first course.
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