“Borscht” Pasta (AKA Deconstructed Borscht with Beet Noodles)

'Borscht' Pasta

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 1 large beet, peeled and spiralized into noodles
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsps butter or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup broth (vegetable or chicken)
  • 15 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped (or 1 tsp dried dill)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sour cream, for garnish (optional)

Directions

Heat the butter or oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is fragrant and is starting to brown. Add the tomatoes, and stir, cooking until the tomato skins blister and split. Next, add the beet noodles, stirring to coat the noodles with the butter/oil. Add the broth and cover the pan to allow the noodles to steam for about 5-8 minutes or until they become tender. Uncover and cook, stirring regularly, until the liquid is almost completely gone. Add the dill and stir. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

And now for the details…

Beet noodles. No, not beet-infused pasta, but actual noodles made out of beets. You’re probably already familiar with zucchini or carrot noodles by spiralizing the vegetables, but how about spiralizing beets? The inspiration for this dish came while I was grocery shopping. The grocery store had beet noodles already prepped for sale and my first thought was “what the heck would you do with beet noodles?”

Well… my brain wouldn’t let it go and I felt the need to figure out what I would do with beet noodles. The earthy flavour of beets is quite pungent, so just throwing them in with any old dish as a pasta replacement would heavily change the flavour of meal. Besides, that beety flavour is so tasty, was there a way to highlight it and make the beet noodles the star of the dish? And then it came to me: a borscht-inspired “pasta” dish.

In order to minimize the mess at home, since I’d never tried spiralizing beets, I chose to use a golden beet instead of a purple/red beet. I can only imagine what the kitchen would have looked like after trying to do this with the deeply coloured purple/red beet. Dark red stains everywhere, it would heavily resemble the scene of a murder. So let’s avoid that and go with the golden beet, shall we? Same great flavour. Less mess. *cheesy smile and thumbs up*

When choosing a beet, try to pick one that’s a little on the larger side, between the size of a tennis ball and softball. In order to spiralize, we need to peel the beet first. Don’t worry about peeling off the bottom of the beet, that’s going to be anchored into the end of our spiralizer. The mistake I made here was to spiralize the whole beet without cutting the noodles as I went. This resulted in looooooooooong Rapunzel-like strands of beet noodles that were a little challenging to work with. I would suggest giving them a little snip with food scissors every 8″-12″/20-30cm as you spiralize to form reasonable-length noodles.

Next, we start cooking! Heat the butter or oil in a large pan/skillet over medium heat. Add your minced garlic and stir until the garlic becomes fragrant (is there a smell much better than garlic cooking in butter?) and add the tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes, stirring regularly, until the skin on the tomatoes blisters and splits open.

Add the beet noodles into the pan. Stir them well so they become coated with the garlicky butter/oil. I found the easiest way to do this was to use some tongs to pick up the noodles and shift them around the pan. Add the broth to the pan, and cover the pan, allowing the beet noodles to cook and soften. This will take about 5-8 minutes.

Finally, uncover the pan, and sprinkle with the dill, stirring well. If there is still quite a bit of liquid in the pan, keep stirring and cooking until most of the liquid has been absorbed/cooked off. Finally, transfer to a serving dish and serve with sour cream!

Happy eating.

Instant Pot Beet Borscht

Ukrainian Beet Borscht

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, shredded
  • 6 small beets, peeled and shredded
  • 4 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 4 fingerling potatoes, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 6 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsps dried dill
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions


Peel and shred the veggies, either in a food processor, or using a grater. Add the olive oil to the instant pot on Sauté setting. Add the onions, garlic and carrots, sautéing until the carrots start to soften. Add the rest of the ingredients, stirring well. Set pot on Soup/Broth setting and cook on pressure for 10 minutes. Serve with fresh dill and sour cream.

And now for the details…

My family on both sides have always had a focus around food. Since I was a little girl, I remember all getting together for big family meals, cracking out some snack or recently baked good when someone would come to visit, and most importantly to me, often cooking or baking together. I must have been so annoying to my mom, grandmas and aunties, because from a young age “I help too” was a common phrase coming out of my mouth, quickly followed by the screech of the kitchen chair legs against the floor as I insistently dragged it over to the counter to stand higher and “help”.

One of the people I would insist regularly on “helping” was my Grandma on my dad’s side. Since my Grandma was Ukrainian, this resulted in me learning to make foods like perogies, periski, holupchi, or borscht. And as the weather turns cooler and root vegetables are readily available now that it is officially fall, my craving for borscht peaks at an all-time high. Even though this classifies as a soup, I feel as though borscht should be more of a stew. Hearty, rich, and hitting the spot on a cool fall day. The addition of the potatoes gives a nice thick broth, and the deep, earthiness and sweetness of the beets gets elevated with the herbaceousness of the dill and the zing of the tomato paste. Admittedly, my Grandma’s borscht was a bit more on the “soup” side of things, but the main thing I did pick up from her, and I hold tight to, was on her being quite adamant that borscht should not contain cabbage. Cooked cabbage… is not my cup of tea. Let’s be frank people, it smells like farts. And so, zero cabbage in this recipe. Is it un-Ukrainian? Possibly. But since I learned this from my Grandma, I’m going to claim a certain level of authenticity!

For this recipe, we are making it in the Instant Pot. You can always make this exact same recipe in a regular pot, it will just need to cook on the stove on medium-low heat for much longer (about 5 times as long).

Let’s start by prepping our veggies. I used a food processor to shred all my veggies. You can always use a hand grater instead. Peel the carrots, onion, and beets first. Then shred the carrots and onion. Remove them from the processor into the pot, and do the beets next. We are doing these all separately so we can sauté the other veggies without the beets, as a sort of mirepoix, without the celery. Mince your garlic and add it to the pot as well. Add a splash of olive oil, set the pot to “Sauté” (medium high on a pot on the stove), and cook the veggies, stirring occasionally, until the carrots start to soften and the garlic and onions are fragrant.

While those veggies are cooking, peel and diced your potatoes. Once they are ready, add the potatoes and beets to the pot, and the broth (chicken for Grandma’s, vegetable if you are going vegetarian with your borscht) and stir well, mixing everything all together.

Add the last few ingredients to the pot, give it one last stir to mix everything in, especially the tomato paste, and the cover your pot and set to “Soup/Broth” setting, with pressure on. If no Instant Pot, turn the temperature down to medium-low temperature. We are going to cook here for 10 minutes in the Instant Pot, or 50-60 minutes on the stove, stirring occasionally if on the stove.

Once the cooking time is done, give the borscht one last stir, then serve in bowls. You can serve just like this, or if you’d like to go the way I had it at Grandma’s, add a dollop of sour cream and stir it in before your first big, soul-warming bite.

Happy eating.