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More Nigella recipes

Ruby Noodles

by . Featured in COOK EAT REPEAT
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Introduction

It’s true that these made their debut in the ‘Christmas Comforts’ chapter of Cook, Eat, Repeat as a sprightly and sharp antidote to all the rich feasting (and also, it must be admitted, because of their fabulously festive colours) but this cold tangle of sour-sweet noodles is to be found on my table all year around. The noodles in question are actually spaghetti, and they are not born red, so to speak, but gain their garnet-gleaming hue - if I may change jewels suddenly - by being boiled for half their cooking time in water, as normal, and then finished off in beetroot juice (from a carton) that is spiked with soy sauce, chilli, ginger, garlic and lime. There is fish sauce in the dressing that anoints them once cooked, but simply replace this with vegan "fish" sauce to make the dish vegan.

Those who feel hesitant about the idea of cold noodles need only to try this recipe to be convinced. But if you wish, however, to eat these more traditionally as pasta, then follow the first three steps only of the recipe below, but leave the ginger out of the beetroot juice, halve the garlic and chilli, replace the lime with two teaspoons of lemon juice, and toss the cooked pasta straightaway with extra virgin olive oil and dill, decant to a serving bowl and crumble a salty snow of feta on top. I haven’t tried it, but friends tell me that plant-based feta is actually good, so you could even make this vegan-friendly, too.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

It’s true that these made their debut in the ‘Christmas Comforts’ chapter of Cook, Eat, Repeat as a sprightly and sharp antidote to all the rich feasting (and also, it must be admitted, because of their fabulously festive colours) but this cold tangle of sour-sweet noodles is to be found on my table all year around. The noodles in question are actually spaghetti, and they are not born red, so to speak, but gain their garnet-gleaming hue - if I may change jewels suddenly - by being boiled for half their cooking time in water, as normal, and then finished off in beetroot juice (from a carton) that is spiked with soy sauce, chilli, ginger, garlic and lime. There is fish sauce in the dressing that anoints them once cooked, but simply replace this with vegan "fish" sauce to make the dish vegan.

Those who feel hesitant about the idea of cold noodles need only to try this recipe to be convinced. But if you wish, however, to eat these more traditionally as pasta, then follow the first three steps only of the recipe below, but leave the ginger out of the beetroot juice, halve the garlic and chilli, replace the lime with two teaspoons of lemon juice, and toss the cooked pasta straightaway with extra virgin olive oil and dill, decant to a serving bowl and crumble a salty snow of feta on top. I haven’t tried it, but friends tell me that plant-based feta is actually good, so you could even make this vegan-friendly, too.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Ruby Noodles
Photo by Jonathan Lovekin

Ingredients

Serves: 4

Metric Cups
  • 450 millilitres beetroot juice
  • 2 limes
  • 2 fat cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes (or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt)
  • ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 350 grams spaghetti
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil plus 2 teaspoons more
  • 3 teaspoons fish sauce or vegan "fish" sauce
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 x 15ml tablespoon brown rice vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 4 x 15ml tablespoons roughly chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • scant 1¾ cups beet juice
  • 2 limes
  • 2 fat cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh gingerroot
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt)
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 2 teaspoons toasted Asian sesame oil plus 2 teaspoons more
  • 3 teaspoons fish sauce or vegan "fish" sauce
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 x 15ml tablespoon brown rice vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Method

  1. Put water on to boil for the spaghetti, adding salt as usual when it comes to the boil.
  2. Pour the beetroot juice into another pan, also large enough for the pasta later, and add the juice of one of the limes. Peel and mince or grate in the garlic, then stir in (I’d advise against using a wooden spoon, unless you don’t mind its getting stained) the grated ginger, salt and chilli flakes. Once you put the pasta in to cook, bring this pan to a simmer over low heat.
  3. Cook the spaghetti in the salted boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain, add to the simmering beetroot juice pan, turn up the heat so that the beetroot juice bubbles more robustly, and cook it until the pasta is al dente. This can take up to 8 minutes, but check at 5. It really depends on the spaghetti you are using but I find it cooks more slowly in the beetroot juice. At any rate, you will need to hover over the pan a bit, tossing it around with a pasta fork every now and again to make sure it doesn’t stick. When the spaghetti’s cooked, it will have absorbed all the bubbling beetroot juice, except for a scant, shiny scarlet syrup. If the spaghetti has absorbed all the beetroot juice before it has cooked, add in a little hot water from a just-boiled kettle, very slowly, and in gradual increments, as needed.
  4. Once the pasta is cooked, take the pan off the heat and add 2 teaspoons of the sesame oil, 2 teaspoons of the fish sauce, 1 teaspoon of the brown rice vinegar and 2 teaspoons of the soy sauce, toss well, and decant into a shallow bowl to cool.
  5. It will be quite sticky when cold, but don’t panic. In a little jug, mix together the juice of half a lime, the remaining 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, the tablespoon of brown rice vinegar, the last teaspoon of fish sauce, and the last 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, pour over the noodles and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and sprightliness; you may want more lime juice or salt. Add the chopped herbs, toss to mix, and devour.
  1. Put water on to boil for the spaghetti, adding salt as usual when it comes to the boil.
  2. Pour the beet juice into another pan, also large enough for the pasta later, and add the juice of one of the limes. Peel and mince or grate in the garlic, then stir in (I’d advise against using a wooden spoon, unless you don’t mind its getting stained) the grated ginger, salt and chilli flakes. Once you put the pasta in to cook, bring this pan to a simmer over low heat.
  3. Cook the spaghetti in the salted boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain, add to the simmering beet juice pan, turn up the heat so that the beet juice bubbles more robustly, and cook it until the pasta is al dente. This can take up to 8 minutes, but check at 5. It really depends on the spaghetti you are using but I find it cooks more slowly in the beet juice. At any rate, you will need to hover over the pan a bit, tossing it around with a pasta fork every now and again to make sure it doesn’t stick. When the spaghetti’s cooked, it will have absorbed all the bubbling beet juice, except for a scant, shiny scarlet syrup. If the spaghetti has absorbed all the beet juice before it has cooked, add in a little hot water from a just-boiled kettle, very slowly, and in gradual increments, as needed.
  4. Once the pasta is cooked, take the pan off the heat and add 2 teaspoons of the sesame oil, 2 teaspoons of the fish sauce, 1 teaspoon of the brown rice vinegar and 2 teaspoons of the soy sauce, toss well, and decant into a shallow bowl to cool.
  5. It will be quite sticky when cold, but don’t panic. In a little jug, mix together the juice of half a lime, the remaining 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, the tablespoon of brown rice vinegar, the last teaspoon of fish sauce, and the last 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, pour over the noodles and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and sprightliness; you may want more lime juice or salt. Add the chopped herbs, toss to mix, and devour.

Additional Information

STORE:
Refrigerate leftovers, covered, for up to 5 days. Eat cold.

STORE:
Refrigerate leftovers, covered, for up to 5 days. Eat cold.

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What 2 Others have said

  • Just made this, really tasty, easy and colourful. The whole family enjoyed. I made double as could only buy a litre of beetroot juice. I served it with finely sliced sticky honey glazed roast pork and salad leaves, felt and looked festive. Wear an apron!!

    Posted by Trici on 3rd January 2021
  • This sounds very delicious. One garnish I might add, is julienned sticks of cucumber.

    Posted by agarryking on 30th December 2020
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