This vibrant vegetarian-friendly beetroot pasta not only tastes delicious, but is wildly beautiful too...check out that colour! With oven-caramelised beets, tangy goats cheese and zingy lemon, its pesto-style sauce packs a mega flavour punch.
If you’re after a show-stopper vegetarian number, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat this beetroot goat cheese pasta.
Inspired by the classic beetroot and goat cheese pairing, beloved in salads and tarts, this dish blends together roasted sweet beets with tangy, creamy goat feta. The result is an incredible contrast of flavours all married into a vibrant and wildly aesthetic pesto-style pasta sauce.
As a Registered Nutritionist, I’m all about finding tasty and creative ways to amp up your vegetables intake. Despite minimal ingredients, this pasta packs a mega flavour punch and offers up a good few serves of vegetables.
Beetroot. A root vegetable with a vibrant purple-red colour and sweet, earthy flavour. We’re after two medium or one big beetroot here – 400g total.
Garlic. We’ll need 3 cloves, which we’ll roast until buttery soft, along with the beets. This will mellow their pungency and coax out natural sweetness.
Rigatoni pasta. A large cylindrical ridged shaped pasta, perfect for pasta sauce to cling to it. Feel free to substitute another variety, like penne.
Goats feta. A type of cheese made from goat milk. Its creamy texture and distinctive tangy flavour works well with the beets. We’ll be both blending it into the sauce and dotting it overtop.
Walnuts. If beets and goat cheese are a pair, walnuts makes them a trio! A garnish overtop adds a crunchy texture that finishes the dish.
Rocket (argula). A leafy green salad green with a distinct peppery flavour. Serve on the side to turn into a balanced meal.
You’ll also need a few basics: extra-virgin olive oil to dress the beets and pasta sauce; lemon for acidity; and salt and pepper to season it all to perfection.
Step-by-Step: Beetroot & Goats Cheese Pasta
Here are tips and tricks to help your kitchen skills grow while improving the outcome of this dish:
Get kitchen scales out. We’re after 400g total beet, without leafy tops and with skin on, and 100g goat’s cheese (60g blended in the sauce, the rest to garnish). It might sound a bit mathematical, but as we’re dealing with sweet beets and salty cheese, balance is important.
Roast to perfection – but not too hot. Beets like a lower oven temperature compared to other vegetables. Keep it at 180 degrees Celsius bake (not fan-bake!) and dice into chunks a bit bigger than bite-sized for good roasting surface area. End goal? Lightly caramelised, tender but-not-quite-crisp exteriors, with a deep, robust flavour.
All hail the magical pasta water. When pasta cooks, it releases starch into boiling water – and this is valuable stuff. Adding it to pasta sauce will help the fat in feta and olive oil combine more smoothly with the beets. In culinary speak, this is known as an emulsion.
Serving & Storing
Serve the pasta dotted with blobs of the remaining goats feta, a sprinkle of walnut, and the lemony rocket on the side for freshness.
This dish is best enjoyed immediately. If storing, spoon into an airtight container and keep in the fridge. Reheat with a splash of water or oil to reinvigorate.
What are the nutritional benefits of beetroot? Besides bringing a pop of colour to your plate, beets provide great nutritional bang-for-buck. Just one cup provides:
Around 10% of the recommended daily fibre intake, or 2-3g. Fibre bypasses digestion and travels to our large intestine, feeding friendly gut bugs and helping regulate bowel movements.
A generous amount of folate: 148 mcg or 37% of your daily needs. This essential B vitamin plays a critical role in cell growth, DNA production and the formation of red blood cells (1).
Around 2.2 grams of plant-based protein, making beets a surprising source of protein despite their low-calorie content.
A fascinating aspect of beets are their naturally occurring nitrates, which convert into nitric oxide in our bodies, which play a role in regulating blood pressure and healthy blood flow. Some studies even suggest that nitric oxide from beet juice supplements can enhance athletic endurance (2).
Furthering their nutritional prowess, beets boast a rich antioxidant content called betalains. This gives them their captivating deep reddish-purple colour and may have a number of anti-inflammatory effects (although further research in humans is needed (3)).
400gbeetroot(around 1 large or 2 medium-sized beets, skin on, weighed without leafy tops)
2Tbspolive oil,and more to drizzle if desired
100ggoats cheese(60g for the sauce, 20g per bowl to garnish)
2cups of loosely packedrocket
Salt and pepper,to season to perfection
Roasting the beetroot and garlic
Preheat the oven to bake 180 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
If needed, cut the knobbly bit off the top of each beetroot (where the leaves would have been attached). Leaving the garlic in its skin, slice the very tip off one end of the clove.
Place the sliced beetroot onto the baking tray. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and a good few turns of the salt and pepper shaker. Toss with hands or a wooden spoon to coat evenly.
Bake for 15 minutes. At the 15 minute mark, add garlic and toss together. Bake for another 30 minutes, tossing once more at the 30 minute mark.
Remove from oven and leave to slightly cool.
Preparing pasta and sauce
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to boil over the stovetop. Add pasta, and cook as per packet instructions. Before it has finished cooking, carefully remove ½ cup of pasta water and keep aside for the sauce.
While that's cooking, add to a food processor the cooked beetroot, garlic (removed from their skins), 60g goats cheese, the remaining olive oil (1 Tbsp), 1 Tbsp lemon juice and a few turns of the salt and pepper shaker. Process until it looks like a chunky red-purple pesto. Add ¼ cup pasta water and blend again. Taste test and add more S&P or lemon juice if desired.
Put pasta back into the saucepan and add sauce. Add a splash more of the pasta water and toss the sauce through. Taste test and add more S&P if needed.
Squeeze the remaining lemon juice (around 1 Tbsp) over the rocket and toss to coat.
Divide rocket and pasta between two serving bowls. Garnish the pasta with a sprinkle of goat cheese and walnuts. Drizzle over a dash more olive oil, if desired. Enjoy!