Okay, I have a confession to make. I have never eaten beet greens. For years I have been getting beets from the farm with big, bushy bouquets of greens still attached. For years I have been growing beets in our garden and considering them failures when they produced only tender, delicate little greens and none of the roots I was really after. Our entire compost complex is built on a foundation of beet greens. I’ve been terrible.
Now, I’ve known all along that beet greens are allegedly delicious, but for some reason I’ve just… passed them by. It’s not that I was intimidated by them, or thought they’d be nasty, or even that I was being lazy. It was more that they and I were somehow, on a basic, existential level, incompatible. They went their way and I went mine, and neither party complained about it. That is, until last weekend.
We recently started harvesting our Desiree potatoes, and I decided I really wanted to make a pasta that would involve the potatoes, the farm green beans, and a lot of the green garlic we’ve got piling up all over the place. Of course, there were no green beans in our week’s farm share, so I was left casting about for something green to add to all the starches I was planning to combine. As I stood there scrolling through my mental catalog of Edible Things In The House, a little voice in my head piped up, “Beet greens!” Sure, it was true that I had two bunches of wildly leafy beets sitting in the crisper drawer, from the woefully beanless farm share. And sure, those beet greens sure looked succulent. But… they barely seemed to me a foodstuff. What if it was disgusting?
After much hemming and hawing, I decided to just go for it. The worst thing that would happen would be that we all just picked the offending greens out of our dinners, right? Plus, there’d be enough wine on hand that we could, eventually, be drunk enough to think anything tastes good. No, the time had come to brave a new frontier of food.
To make the pasta I just cooked a box of ziti; while the water was boiling and noodles cooking, I roasted a bunch of thinly sliced potatoes in a 425-degree oven and sauteed some thinly sliced onions and a heapful of minced garlic in a fair deal of olive oil. When the potatoes had gotten mildly browned, I took them out of the oven and shoveled them into the large frying pan with the onions and garlic, and tossed it all so the oil coated the potatoes. Then I heaped the pan up with the beet greens, which had been chopped into thick ribbons. I kept turning the whole mixture with tongs until the greens were wilted, and salted and peppered to taste. Then I tossed that all with the cooked, drained ziti, and topped with a generous shaving of Parmesan cheese.
Holy jumpin’. This. Pasta. Was. So. Delicious. Sure it helps that our Desiree potatoes are, as Pookie proclaimed that evening, a privilege to eat. And also that the garlic was fresh out of the ground, so it had a nice spicy kick, but no harsh aftertaste. And also that the onions in question were our first two harvested from our own garden. But what pushed it over the top, what gave it that extra yumminess, was the beet greens. They’re mellow and rich, like chard, and toothy without being tough. They’re a gorgeous color, and the stems left little hints of beet pink on the noodles. And they come attached to the beets we get from the farm! They’re, like, free! A whole new world has opened up for me. In fact, I liked beet greens so much that I made this exact same dish again just a few days later.
[Posted by Schnookie]