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Ever wonder how pasta makers get lovely colors into a normally off-white dough? Beets. Or spinach. Whichever the recipe calls for.
Now, I realize this answer doesn’t take red or green dyes into account, but when making a good quality pasta, the easiest way to infuse natural flavor (and color) is from the ingredients themselves. This is why spinach pasta tastes so darn good–the fresh greens used to color the dough add a certain je ne sais quoi to the dough that I just love. Likewise, beets add a natural candy-ness when infused correctly, or simply a bright red color if going for a different take on an Italian favorite.
I should preface this recipe by saying that although this pasta is red, it doesn’t taste like beets. I opted for 2 very small roasted beets to test my first batch, but discovered that if you’re a lover of beets, the root’s natural wetness can be continually added to your dough to increase the red color and the beet-like flavor. But, let’s start with 2 beets first….
2 beets create an extremely red dough, but the redness fades a bit during cooking. When plated, I felt the dish had a more pink-like quality to its appearance, but still a lovely presentation.
Since the pasta really takes the center stage here, I plated the dish with a simple toss of goat cheese, basil, and some salt and pepper to taste. In flavor and texture, this beet dish was lovely, and with the help of a good-quality pasta machine, store-bought brightness can be made right at home. —Helana Brigman
beets, roasted, skinned, and cubed
egg yolks plus 1 egg
teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
cups flour, plus more for kneading
- Roast beets according to cooking instructions, peel, quarter, and add to food processor. Combine all ingredients and pulse until dough comes together. If though dough is too wet, add more flour. If too dry, add more olive oil.
- Place dough on a well-floured surface, shape into a square, and quarter.
- Using a pasta machine set on a medium-level of thickness, begin processing dough into a long, flat strip. Continue to process on increasing levels of thinness until desired level of thickness is achieved. Feed pasta strip through linguine-setting and place on a drying rack or use immediately.
- Bring a pot of very salty water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente–done (soft), but still firm to the bite. Strain pasta. Serve with goat cheese and basil. Enjoy!