Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Don't Throw Them Out!
My friend, Helen, and I went to the produce market and we each bought a lovely fresh bunch of red beets with the tops still crisp and green. Helen let me cut the tops from her bunch and then I had a lot of beet greens to use up quickly while they were still in their prime.

I trimmed off the bulk of the red stalks and tossed the leaves into a sink full of cold water, swished them around thoroughly and then drained the water and silt and filled up the sink again with fresh cold water to give them one more rinse. Then I stacked a dozen or so at a time, rolled them up and sliced them (chiffonade).

As a kid, most fresh greens at my house were cooked to death with salt pork and onion. The green turned a deathly black but I still loved them. We ate dandelion greens, fiddle heads, Swiss chard, and beet greens. Whatever was available for a short period of time. Spring did offer some great alternatives to the canned vegetables that showed up on our supper table most of the year.

Remembering how great a little fat tasted with the greens, while I was washing and slicing the beet greens, I sautéed a couple of slices of minced bacon along with two sliced shallots in a little olive oil, in a dutch oven. Once the bacon pieces were crisp and the shallots had released their wonderful aroma, I added the beet green chiffonade and let it wilt down into the bacon and shallots, turning to coat all the pieces, then added the lid to the pot to let a little steam do its magic. Watch the greens don't overcook. Once they've wilted and are tender remove the pot from the hot burner and season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and add a tablespoon of vinegar. I used unfiltered apple cider vinegar.

Meanwhile, put on a pot of well salted water to boil up some penne pasta(or any shape you have on hand). When the pasta is al dente, drain it and mix it into the dutch oven with the beet greens. A grating of fresh Parmesan and a drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil adds a fine finish to a quick, healthy, delicious, economical meal.

Many would throw out those greens. What a waste that would be as they make a unique pasta topping.

Not all pasta needs to be dressed in red.

Till next time . . . keep on cooking!


Freya and Paul said...

Those leaves look beautiful and the pasta dish looks wonderful!

Kristen said...

Oh my...that looks like such a delicious meal!

Asha said...

Joyce!!! Don't tell me you threw them out all this time!!! NOO!!:)

They are the best part,I always chop the leaves and cook with Beets.

Dish looks fabulous,great color too.Enjoy.