Beetroot noodles with chickpea sauce

This recipe was inspired by a hummus and veggie sandwich that I had at a local pub.  I loved the savoury salty taste of the hummus combined with fresh crunchy  grated beetroot and carrot, and peppery rocket, but felt that it was rather let down by being squashed between two slices of slightly stale bread.  On my drive home I wondered how I could use these flavour combinations in a fresher, lighter dish.  I thought the hummus, slightly thinned down, would make a lovely, creamy (but dairy-free) pasta sauce, and by using spiralised beetroot instead of pasta I could keep the combination of hummus and vegetables, as well as making the dish a wonderful colour.  It also means that it is closer to a light summer salad rather than a rich pasta dish.  I wanted each element of the dish to add something distinctive so alongside the earthy beetroot I used olives for saltiness,  softened red onions for sweetness and rocket for peppery fire.

Beetroot noodles with chickpea sauce

Cooking time: 15-25 minutes preparation time (excluding the cooking time for the chickpeas if you are using dried chickpeas), 10-20 minutes on the night

Dietary info: vegan, gluten-free

Serves:2-3

  • 2 medium beetroot, washed and spiralised (if you don’t have a spiraliser, the beetroot can be grated, finely sliced or peeled into ribbons – this will give a dish closer to a salad than pasta and sauce)
  • ~100g olives, drained and sliced (I often buy a jar of ready sliced olives to save time.  Any left over olives make a lovely addition to a side salad of lettuce, cucumber and tomato)
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 packet rocket (about 90g), washed

Chickpea sauce

  • 200g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked as per the instructions on the packet (usually bring to the boil and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, then cover and simmer for a further 60-75 mintes) – you can replace with a 400g can of chickpeas, drained
  • 300ml water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 heaped tsp garlic powder (preferably smoked)
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  1. Blend the all of the chickpea sauce ingredients in a liquidiser to a smooth sauce. Season to taste with salt and extra lemon juice.
  2. Put the onion in a non-stick frying pan with enough water to cover the bottom and cook for 5-10 minutes until softened.
  3. Add the beetroot noodles and cook for a further 3-5 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like your beetroot.  If you are using finely sliced or ribbons of beetroot it will probably need 5-8 minutes, if you are using grated beetroot it will only need 1-3 minutes.
  4. Stir in 4 tbsp of the chickpea sauce and stir to heat through and coat the beetroot noodles.
  5. Heat the remaining chickpea sauce for 2-4 minutes in a small sauce pan or the microwave just to heat through.
  6. Mix in the olives and rocket into the beetroot noodles and remove from the heat.
  7. Serve with the remaining chickpea sauce on the side.

A few tips to prep ahead:

  • Make the chickpea sauce and keep in a sealable container in the fridge for up to a week.
  • Slice the onion and keep in a sealable box or bag in the fridge for a few days.  It can even be softened ahead of time (i.e. cook up to the end of step 2) and kept in the fridge.
  • Spiralise the beetroot the night before and keep in a box or bag in the fridge.  If you prepare it much longer ahead of time it is in danger of drying out.
  • If you haven’t bought sliced olives, drain and slice the olives and keep them in a box or bag in the fridge for a few days.
  • Then all you need to do on the night is combine the onion and beetroot noodles, cook them, add the sauce, rocket and olives, heat through the sauce and serve.

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Some tasty little twists…

  • Replace one of the beetroot with a spiralised or grated carrot to vary the vegetables.
  • Replace the beetroot noodles with ~80-125g fresh spaghetti per person (or 50-80g dried spaghetti, depending on how hungry you are) and add 1 grated beetroot and 1 grated carrot to make this a more substantial dish.  Cook the spaghetti in a saucepan as per packet instructions, drain and stir into the frying pan when you add the chickpea sauce.
  • Use the sauce to dress a fresh salad of grated beetroot, carrot, rocket and olives (and sliced red onion if you like raw onion – my husband and I are not big fans) for a fresh, no-cook dinner.  You could also accompany this with some of my favourite pitta breads (see my Greek BBQ chicken and salad blog for a pitta recipe) or fresh crusty bread to make it more substantial, or feed more people.
  • Use the sauce as a dip for raw vegetable batons (carrots, celery, beetroot, cucumber) or slices of pitta as a snack or starter, as you might for hummus.
  • Play with the seasoning of the chickpea sauce to find your personal favourite combination e.g. increase the chilli or tahini for a stronger flavour, add some ground pepper, fresh parsley or 2-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for variety etc.

A few weeks after making this dish for the first time, I had an Japanese inspired salad with a lovely thick miso dressing.  The satisfying savoury taste and consistency of the miso dressing reminded me of the chickpea sauce so I thought, why not combine the two ideas? the result was a chickpea miso sauce – a kind of Middle Eastern and Japanese fusion (my husband and I were reading a book on the Silk Road at the time so it seemed very fitting). This sauce can be used as a sauce for noodles or spiralised vegetables, as above, a dressing for a salad, or to accompany grilled meat, fish or vegetables (seafood, salmon, chicken, oriental mushrooms, tofu, aubergine slices and asparagus all go well) or poached eggs.

Chickpea miso sauce

  • 200g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked as per the instructions on the packet (usually bring to the boil and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, then cover and simmer for a further 60-75 mintes) – you can replace with a 400g can of chickpeas, drained
  • 450ml water
  • 3 heaped tbsp miso pasta
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  1. Blend the all of the chickpea sauce ingredients in a liquidiser to a smooth sauce. Season to taste with salt and extra lemon juice.
  2. Heat the sauce for 2-4 minutes in a small sauce pan or the microwave just to heat through and serve (see serving suggestions above).

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