Spring Beetroot Pesto Pasta main

Spring beetroot pesto pasta

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The perfect dish to salute the beginning of spring! Recipe by Roberta Nelson.

This spring pesto is a wonderful and vibrant variation of the traditional basil pesto with layers of earthy beetroot, toasted spices and creamy goat’s feta. Paired with a protein-rich brown rice pasta, seasonal spring peas and lemon zest. 

Spring often brings a sense of renewal to many of us. As new leaves appear on the trees and the flowers start to show, it is a good time to reconsider what you want for your health and wellbeing and begin making moves to turn your own leaf and start fresh. 

Small changes like increasing your vegetable intake to hit your ‘five a day’, finding nutritious alternatives and new twists to old favourites like rice, bread and pasta or eating a more plant-based diet are little nudges towards a healthier, happier and lighter you. 

This spring-inspired meal is the perfect addition to your weekly menu to support these small changes. It is highly nutritious, loaded with antioxidants, completely plant-based and made from only whole food ingredients. 

You can mix up the pasta types by trying out quinoa pasta, making your own noodles out of zucchini or using good quality whole wheat pasta from your local store.  

 

vegetarian, gluten-free

 vegan option

Ingredients

  • 2 medium beetroots, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 clove garlic, whole and unpeeled
  • A generous handful of pumpkin seeds
  • 2 heaped tsp cumin seeds
  • A generous handful of basil, leaves and stalks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil + extra if needed
  • 1 lemon, juiced + zest set aside
  • 100 g goats feta + extra for serving
  • Salt and pepper
  • 500 g brown rice spiral pasta
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas

Garnishes

Lemon zest, goat’s cheese, chopped basil leaves or micro herbs

How to make

  • Heat your oven to 165 ºC and line a baking tray with baking paper. Toss your chunks of beetroot in olive oil or coconut oil as well as salt and pepper and spread out onto your prepared baking tray along with the whole clove of garlic.
  • Roast your beetroot for approximately 30 minutes or until it is soft and roasted
  • While your beetroot and garlic are roasting, dry toast the pumpkin seeds on a small pan on the stovetop over a medium heat. When they are starting to brown, add the cumin seeds and toast for another 30 seconds or so until the cumin seeds are fragrant and the pumpkin seeds are nicely browned
  • In a blender or food processor, add the roasted beetroot, pumpkin seeds and cumin seeds as well as the basil, olive oil, lemon juice and feta. Peel the garlic and add it to the rest of the ingredients then blitz everything together until it comes into a smooth, pesto-like consistency. If you need to loosen it, add a tablespoon of olive oil at a time until it reaches a consistency you like. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Transfer to an airtight container or jar and store in the fridge for up to 5 days
  • On the stove, bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook your pasta according to the directions on the packet. Once it is close to cooked, strain your pasta keeping a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water to the side. Once it is fully strained, return the pasta to the pot and place the pot back on the stove. If you are using frozen peas, you can quickly blanch them in the boiling water prior to cooking the pasta and set them aside to be added to the pasta at the end
  • Over a low heat, add a cup of the beetroot pesto or as much as you would prefer. Mix the pesto through the pasta gently, adding a tablespoon or two of the pasta cooking water to allow it to mix together easily. Taste and add more pesto, salt or pepper as needed
  • To serve, divide the pasta between four bowls then top each bowl with peas, goat’s feta, lemon zest, basil or micro herbs and salt and pepper if needed. Enjoy immediately
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Roberta Nelson, aka Naturo Medico, is a nutritionist, recipe developer and public health specialist.

Follow @naturomedico on Instagram for more healthy eating inspiration!