Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Penne with Beets, Beet Greens, Goat Cheese & Walnuts

The Flexitarian Table is a beautiful cookbook, organized by seasonal recipes. For fall, the beautiful meal of Chestnut Apple Soup & Penne with Beets, Beet Greens, Goat Cheese and Walnuts stood out to me. There were some speed bumps, as I couldn't find the chestnuts (not at stores here yet), so I'll make the soup later this week. I made the Penne with the pork roast on Monday, and it was a great meal.

One of the fun parts of this dish for me was roasting the beets. I had never even heard of beets before my DH introduced them to me. He grew up eating them. Purple, and looking like they've been candied or something when they are cooked, the fact that they looked like an overgrown radish and turned into the candied appearance had me confused. But this recipe had me buy them raw and roast and peel them. How much fun! I like beets now for sure, my kids loved the "purple macaroni" and the beet greens actually tasted great in this wonderfully flavored dish. It was very fall appropriate.

I did omit the walnuts, DH is allergic, I'm sure they would have been good though. I also roasted & peeled the beets and prepped the greens the day before, making it a quicker, toss together recipe.

Penne with Beets, Beet Greens, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts
It says that this serves 4, but it made a HUGE amount. I would half it next time for my family.

Look for beets with healthy greens (limp, torn leaves won't make for good eating.) If nice beet greens are not available, use 12 ounces of swiss chard or spinach in their place. Pecans can be substituted for the walnuts.

2 bunches beets w/greens (about 2 pounds), trimmed, greens reserved, and beets scrubbed
Sea salt or kosher salt
8 oz whole wheat penne
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsley chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, wrap beets in foil and place on baking sheet, roast until they can be pierced easily with the tip of a knife, about 45 minutes.

Wash and drain the beet greens, cut into 1/2 inch wide ribbons and set aside.

Unwrap the beets, transfer to a colander, and cool under cold water. Slip off skins and discard. Trim ends off the beets, and slice 1/2 inch thick. Stack sliced and cut into 1/2 inch wide sticks.

Bring pot of salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook until al dente, about 8 min.

In a large skillet, (I recommend a dutch oven size!) heat oil over medium heat until it shimmers, Add garlic, tarragon, and pepper flakes, cook stirring until garlic is lightly colored, 1-2 min. Add beets and greens, cook, stirring, until greens have wilted, 1-2 min.

Drain pasta, add to pan. Stir in goat cheese and cream and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately sprinkled w/ walnuts.

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