Friday, October 25, 2013

Pasta with Beet Greens, Pine Nuts and Feta

The next time you buy beets with the greens still attached I beg you, don't throw them out. Eat those greens!


A few things to know about beet greens:
  • The leaves should be crisp and green. Avoid leaves that are limp, wilted or turning yellow.
  • Immediately remove the leaves from the beets and store them separately in the refrigerator.
  • Beet leaves are really perishable and won’t last more than a few days. The sooner you use them the better.
  • Beet greens are packed with good stuff: carotenoids, flavonoid antioxidants, and vitamin A. In fact the leaves contain more of these things than the roots.
Now, on to what to do with them. Whenever I think beet greens I immediately think pasta. Apparently, I'm not alone. Just "google" it and you'll be served up a plethora of recipes for beet greens and various forms of pasta. It's a combination that just works.

Lots of the recipes out there use raisins. Spoiler alert: This recipe does not. I get the whole sweet and earthy flavor combination, but I am just not a fan of raisins. Yes, I don't even like them in my rice pudding. *Gasp!*

Any way, back to the topic at hand - beet greens. If you have never had them, I would say they taste a lot like Swiss chard. Yes they're on the earthy side, but I think that's why they pair so well with nuts and tangier cheeses like goat cheese or blue cheese.

So, while this recipe may not be revolutionary, it's still seasonal, simple and (most importantly) really good. Hopefully it inspires at least one more person to give beet greens a place at the table.


Pasta with Beet Greens, Pine Nuts and Feta
Serves 4-6 (depending on your appetite)

Ingredients
  • 1 lb. whole wheat shells (Hodgson Mill Medium Shells)
  • 1 large bunch beet greens and stems, rinsed and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. In a dry frying pan toast the pine nuts. Gently toss around the pan to make sure they toast evenly. Once fragrant and evenly golden-colored remove from heat. Set aside.
  2. In a large saute pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic and saute until golden brown.
  4. Add the beet stems and cook, covered stirring occasionally, for about 8-10 minutes until tender.
  5. While the stems cook bring a large pot of water to a boil. When it comes to a boil, salt the water and add the pasta. Cook until al dente.
  6. Meanwhile, toss the beet greens into the saute pan. Cook uncovered until wilted.
  7. Add the cooked pasta to the saute pan.
  8. Pour in the remaining olive oil, along with the toasted pine nuts and feta cheese. Season with additional salt and pepper to your taste. Stir to combine.
  9. Serve immediately.
Do you like beet greens? What's your favorite way to make them?
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