I am a relatively new convert to the world of beets. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve eaten them, but I’m quickly discovering that I adore them. Back when I made my beet and orange salad, I also flagged this recipe because it looked so tasty. I had been waiting for Eatwell to bring us more beets, but so far, no luck. Two weeks ago however, I found myself at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market and beets were everywhere. Of course, I filled up a bag of gorgeous golden beets so I could finally try this dish.
It’s really good. About halfway through the cooking, I started to have second thoughts. “Is this really going to taste good?” I kept thinking. I think it was because I was still not firmly convinced that I did really like beets. I’m glad I powered through, because it paid off. It makes for a very hearty, simple vegetarian pasta dish.
If you can’t find beets with the greens still attached and fresh, I think chard would probably be the best substitute, but spinach would probably work too, though you’d have to cut the cooking time down a bit. You can also make this with red beets, but your pasta will be pink.
This recipe comes from the February 2009 Bon Appetit.
Farfalle with Golden Beets, Beet Greens, and Pine Nuts
1/3 cup pine nuts
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large onions, quartered lengthwise through root end, sliced crosswise (about 4 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bunches 2-inch-diameter golden beets with fresh healthy greens; beets peeled, each cut into 8 wedges, greens cut into 1-inch-wide strips
12 oz farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
Heat heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts and stir until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons oil and onions to same skillet and sauté until beginning to soften and turn golden, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to sauté until onions are tender and browned, about 30 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, cook beets in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer beets to medium bowl. Return water to boil. Add pasta to beet cooking liquid and cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally.
If you finish cooking the pasta while the onions and greens are still cooking, reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid before draining. Otherwise just keep a ladle handy.
While the pasta is cooking, add garlic to the onion mixture and cook for about 2 minutes. Scatter beet greens over onions. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons oil over and a couple tablespoons of the pasta cooking water; cover and cook until beet greens are tender, about 5 minutes.
Drain the pasta ifyou haven’t already, reserving extra water, and return it back to the pot.
Stir onion-greens mixture and beets into pasta. Add pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten as needed. You probably won’t need the entire cup, but you will probably need to add a half cup or so just so the beets and greens don’t stick together and the pasta doesn’t look too dry. Season with salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Divide pasta among shallow bowls. Sprinkle with pine nuts and additional cheese.