Beet Greens with Penne and Feta
I have to admit that while I love beets, I really haven’t shown much love to beet greens over the years. Frankly, I don’t even buy beets that often because they’re fairly labor intensive. But Ellwood Canyon Farms, an organic farm in Goleta, had three lovely varieties of beets at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market yesterday, and I just kept thinking, “This is going to make a beautiful salad.” The salad will be for later in the week, but this time I was determined not to waste the beet greens. So…
I removed the beet greens from the stems, ripped them into manageable (i.e. bite-size pieces, but keep in mind they’re going to wilt/shrink) and washed them carefully, then ran through the salad spinner a few times to get the water off. How much is enough for one person? Probably enough to fill up your regular sized salad spinner. (So if there are multiple folks, you’ll need to go through the process a few times.)
Then, it was get a pan hot, add a bit of olive oil to coat the surface, saute onions (maybe a third of a smallish onion), give them a few minutes and add chopped garlic (I used three small gloves, but I like garlic). Next, in go the beet greens, and toss them around to make sure everybody gets some heat and a coating of olive oil. In a few minutes,they’ll start to wilt. While the cooking was going on, I hit everything with a bit of basil,oregano and chili flakes and a little salt. I didn’t go too heavy on the salt because not only was the water salted, but you’re going to add something pretty salty soon…
So while all of that’s happening, I had some penne boiling in salted water (feel free to add a little of that pastafied water to your beet greens if things start to dry out while they’re cooking).
If your beet greens finish before your penne is ready, take them off the heat. Once your penne is cooked (don’t overdo it) and drained , return the beet greens to the heat, dump the penne in, and then add a little block of naturally salty feta cheese the reason why you don’t need to add a ton of extra salt to the beet greens. I usually break it up with a knife before it goes in. Toss it all together, hit it with some fresh ground pepper and more chili flakes if necessary, then plate it.
For a first time out of the gate, it was fairly successful. Improvements I’d make next time: I’d add slightly more beet greens, even if that meant using a bigger pan (it’s tough fitting them all in at first, but once they wilt, they take up less space), and I might consider something like pine nuts for texture. But all in all, it’s a very healthy lunch, and the whole thing can be knocked out in maybe 20 minutes. Not too shabby.
Beet greens, removed from the stems, enough to fill a salad spinner (or a bit more)
Penne, one serving (3/4 cup with the Trader Joe’s organic wheat penne I tend to use)
Onion, about half of a small one (or more if you really like it)
Garlic, one large clove or a few small ones
Feta cheese, about an ounce (or more if you like it)
Olive oil, enough to coat the pan
Chili flakes, basil and oregano, as much as you like
Salt and pepper to taste
Making the recipe for more than one person? Just start multiplying your servings…