I distinctly remember the day I learned to love beets, and the person who showed me they could be really tasty. I was volunteering at Burning River Farm in Frederic, WI in the summer of 2010. We had just spent the morning harvesting produce and packing CSA boxes and it was lunch time. Adrienne, the farm manager, made a pan of roasted red and golden beets, cippolini onions, and garlic (all from the farm, of course). I was really hesitant to try it, given my life-long distaste for beets, but it smelled so good and looked so pretty, I couldn't help but try a spoonful. And another spoonful. And another.
And now, I love beets. When prepared in the proper way and paired with the right accompaniments, whether sliced thin in a salad or roasted in olive oil, they are really good (and good for you, I might add).
This past Saturday, while wandering through the Davis Farmers' Market, I spotted a huge bunch of golden beets from afar. They were by far the prettiest bunch of beets I had ever seen, so I knew I had to get a bunch (and in retrospect I wish I had gotten two). At home, while prepping the beets for roasting, I remembered hearing many times that the greens were edible, so I decided to do a little research on how to prepare them. After perusing the internet and cookbooks, I concocted the recipe below and was amazed at how tasty beet greens are. They seem to be best served with the beets, since the greens are slightly bitter and the beets are slightly sweet, so they compliment each other well. Mixed with caramelized onions adds a bit more sweetness. You can boil the beets (which takes less time than roasting), but you'll miss out on the smokey sweet flavor that comes from roasting.
Pair with a well-balanced Chardonnay (like this one) for a really delicious summer dinner.
Golden Beets & Beet Greens with Whole Wheat Pasta
Serves 2 as a main course
1 large bunch golden beets with greens
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
8 oz whole wheat pasta (farfalle or conchiglie work well)
1 large onion, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
Toasted pine nuts*
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove greens tops and the tails from beets. Rinse the beets to remove any excess dirt. Cut into bite-size pieces; place in a baking dish. Add 2 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss to combine. Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until the beets are easily pierced with a fork.
While the beets are roasting, cook the pasta according to packaged directions. Drain and set aside.
Remove any stems from the beet greens. Gather up the greens and slice as you would swiss chard. Set aside.
In a large, heavy skillet, heat remaining 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and saute for 10 minutes more, until onions are brown and soft. Add garlic; saute for 1 minute. Add the beet greens and saute until the greens are soft and just tender, about 10 minutes (do not allow them to turn dark, as this means they are overcooked). Add the roasted beets and the pasta to the saucepan and saute until heated through. Divide up amongst two bowls and top with Parmesan and toasted pine nuts.
*To toast pine nuts, place in a dry skillet over medium heat and stir until they turn a light brown. You can also use toasted walnuts in this recipe, as pine nuts are sometimes hard to find and can be expensive.