Beetroot and Poppy Seed Penne
This bright, brilliant bowl of pasta is not your average red sauce. Using beetroot and poppy seeds, this sauce is as easy to make as it is delicious! It can be made oil-free and/or gluten-free.
Honestly, over the years I have had my fights with pasta. While I love having a great bowl of vegan mac and cheese or lentil bolognese, I find it hard to fit these in my largely whole food plant based diet. I’ve tried whole wheat pasta, but it’s just too grainy for me – if I’m going to eat pasta, it better taste like pasta.
But recently, I discovered a new range of pastas in my local supermarkets: legume-based pasta. These colourful, naturally gluten free dried pastas are made from legumes such as red lentils, yellow lentils, green peas, chickpeas and sometimes even vegetables such as carrots. I was a bit hesitant to try them, but I love the texture! Green pea pasta is a bit grainy to me, but red lentil is absolutely amazing. I started opting for them more often, as they have the same flexibility as pasta, but with more protein and fiber!
Funny enough, this recipe started with the thought: “How can I hide the fact that this pasta is red instead of white?” This led me down a rabbit hole of pasta recipes made with beetroot, until I learned about the combination of beetroot and poppy seed. This combination is often paired with goat’s cheese or ricotta, which is why I chose to add a vegan topping that mimic this flavour contrast. I also added dill, as it’s such a classic pairing with beetroot and yogurt, and I tend to have some around. This is totally optional though. I hope you try it, and let me know what you think in the comments!
Beetroot and Poppy Seed Penne
- Blender or food processor
- 250 g penne I use red lentil – (whole) wheat or other dried pasta works too
- 4-5 beetroots, prepared I buy boiled beetroots – roasted beetroots will work too. If you cannot buy boiled beetroots, peel and boil them in advance.
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil optional
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 stock cube Adjust if necessary. The cube should be for about ½ liter of stock.
- ½ tbsp poppy seeds
- 150 ml soy yogurt Unsweetened works best. It should be a slightly thick yogurt, like a Greek style yogurt.
- 1 clove garlic
- black pepper
- 2 tbsp fresh dill
- For the yogurt topping, blend the soy yogurt with the garlic until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat a large pot of salted water and boil the pasta for 1-2 minutes shorter than the package instructions – it should be al dente. Drain the pasta and (only if your sauce is not done yet when the pasta is) rinse with cold water to prevent the pasta from getting overcooked.
- While the pasta is cooking, finely blend the beetroot with the onion and a bit of water in the blender to make a somewhat runny mixture.
- Heat up a pan, add the olive oil if using, then add the tomato paste, blended beetroot, stock cube and poppy seeds.
- Heat the sauce, stirring occasionally, so that the onion cooks and the sauce reduces to a thick consistency.
- When the sauce is done, add the drained pasta and heat a bit more, so that the pasta absorbs some of the sauce and cooks fully, absorbing the pink color of the beetroot.
- Serve the pasta in bowls, topping each portion with some of the yogurt as well as some finely chopped fresh dill. Some extra poppy seeds are a nice touch too.