Linguine with Roasted Beets, Tarragon & Caraway Seeds

This tops my list as one of the most stunning entrees prepared in a very long time.  With thanks to Viviane Bauquet Fair of FoodandStyle this was a much talked about dish we served at a recent Embassy function.  The guests ooo’d and aaa’d when the servers delivered the steaming hot ruby red linguine that not only looked fabulous but tasted incredible!!

It’s one of those dishes that can be half-prepared the day before, like the roasted beets for example.  The recipe easily doubles and triples for a larger quantity, however, special care must be taken when tossing the hot pasta with the beet mixture.

Linguine with Roasted Beets, Tarragon & Caraway Seeds

 6 medium red beets, washed and trimmed

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1½ teaspoons caraway seeds

1 tablespoon salt for the pasta water

1 pound/454 grams linguine

4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons red balsamic vinegar

½ cup reserved pasta cooking water

¼ cup fresh tarragon, chopped or ⅛ cup dried tarragon

a good pinch of sea salt

freshly ground pepper from the mill, to taste

tarragon sprigs for garnish

Preheat oven to 232℃ (450 F)

If the beets are large, slice then in half from top to bottom. Place the beets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, add water to cover the bottom. (TIP: put the baking sheet in the oven, add the water before sliding the rack inside). Poke with a knife for doneness and remove when tender. You may have to add more water. Peel the beets when cooled, and  cut  julienne style by hand or with a mandoline. If doing this step the day before then transfer the beets into a container, cover and refrigerate. They can be prepared up to 3 days in advance.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the oil and caraway seed.When the seeds start to splutter and pop, add the beets and saute for 10-12 minutes until they start to caramelize. They will shrink by half and look dark around the edges.  Remove from the heat and set the pan aside.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the salt and the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente following the cooking time indicated on the package. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water and drain well.

While the pasta is draining, return the beets to high heat. When they start to sizzle add the garlic and vinegar stirring to mix well. Saute 1 minute only until the vinegar has completely evaporated and glazed the beet slices. Add the pasta, reserved pasta water, tarragon, salt and pepper.  Turn the heat off and toss until the pasta is well coated with the sauce.  It is while tossing that the pasta acquires its gorgeous red colour.  You’ll be amazed at how fast it happens and how intense the colour is.

Spoon the pasta into bowls or twirl tightly with a fork for a lovely presentation.  Garnish with a fresh sprig of tarragon and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the top. Serve immediately.  It’s really delicious!! Bon Appetit!