Monday, 22 April 2013

Making Beetroot Tagliatelle with Mushrooms, Garlic & Thyme at the beach in Praia Vermelha, Brazil

Arriving into a cloudy Sao Paulo, one of the first things we did was drive to the covered market in the center. Inside the cavernous space, stalls of tropical fruit easily rivaled Barcelona’s famous fruit and vegetable market and I tasted some amazing fruits I’d never seen before. There were also a huge amount of stalls selling cured meats and large hunks of salted cod, which, in turn, we ate battered and deep fried at one of the little cafes lining the space.

My favourite stall was stocked with rows of little packets containing colourful, flavoured flours, dried herbs and spices. I bought some deep purple ‘beetroot flour’ which we promptly decided should be cooked within Brazil rather than risking the wrath of USA immigrations as the small package looked extremely dodgy!

Discovering my cousin Julia owned a pasta making machine we decided to take it with us to the beachhouse at Praia Vermelha and make some sort of beetroot pasta. From a search on the web, this is normally made with fresh beetroot which is pureed and added to flour and eggs so we were unsure of how ‘beetrooty’ the pasta would be by merely substituting the flavoured flour for 00 flour. However, as soon as the wet eggs hit the dusky purple mix it turned violently deep purple, staining Jenns hands and giving off that lovely, earthy sweetness of beetroot: so far so good.

Looking through the fridge at Marina’s stocks she had brought from the city, we found various exotic mushrooms like shitake and enokitake, some thyme and garlic which we thought would make a lovely light sauce for the tagliatelle. The finished dish was a surprisingly good despite it’s simplicity. The pasta was silky and sweetly savoury which contrasted well with the earthy mushrooms, heavy with garlic.

Sunbathing at Praia Vermelha, Ubatuba, Brazil

Beetroot Tagliatelle with Mixed Mushrooms, Garlic & Thyme

n.b. in the absence of scales we guess-timated quantities. This is ok for pasta as you add the eggs one by one. The general rule is 1 egg to 100g, but add in your last egg bit by bit so the dough doesn't get too sticky.

To serve 4

For the pasta
  • Mix together roughly 200g ‘00’ Pasta Flour and 200g Beetroot Flour* with ½ tsp. Salt.
  • Tip onto a work surface and make a well in the center.
  • Pour in 1tbsp Olive Oil and 1 egg. With a fork of your fingers, gradually incorporated the dry into the wet. As it comes together add in the remaining eggs until a firm dough is formed.
  • Knead for about 5-10 minutes until the dough becomes malleable and resembles something like play dough.
  • Cover and rest in the fridge for half an hour.

 For the sauce
  • Heat a good glug of Olive Oil and a knob of Butter in a deep pan. Add 4 Garlic Cloves, chopped, the leaves of a bunch of Thyme & 1 tsp. Salt and cook gently to bring out the flavour but not brown. To this add about 400-600g of mixed mushrooms. The more exotic and varied the better as they add interesting texture on top of the pasta. Raise the heat and cook until the mushrooms are beginning to brown. Add more oil when necessary and season with more Salt and Pepper. Take off the heat.

To finish

  • Roll the dough into tagliatelle using a pasta machine. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta for roughly 3 minutes – it will float upwards when cooked. Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the water and add to the sauce in the pan along with a handful of grated Parmesan. Heat for one minute, adding and a little of the pasta water to emulsify the sauce.
  •  Serve with plenty more Parmesan. 
*In the absence of this, Martha Stewart makes hers with fresh beetroot (see link)