I love farmers markets and I have a habit of overindulging when I go. So my crisper ends up over flowing and then sadly rotting on the bottom. This week I was determined to us the beautiful golden beets that I had purchased, but alas I left them in the crisper long enough for the beet greens to not look so appetizing. So….rather than buying new beets for the greens for the recipe I wanted to make I picked up some fresh swiss chard. If you have ever looked at beet greens they are very similar to chard, same family and similar flavor. So I had my substitution and I was off to make one of my favorite recipes for pasta with roasted beets, beet greens and pine nuts.
I based last nights recipe on one from http://www.theitaliandishblog.com Then I needed to find a wine pairing! I searched a little more online and found a recipe with a similar flavor profile on http://www.grouprecipes.com. The recipe didn’t include pasta but was for roasted beets and beet greens with a balsamic vinegar. It suggested pairing with a Zin or a Shiraz and there was a comment saying that the pairing was perfect.
I needed to pick up pine nuts and pancetta to finish the dish and run to the wine store. It is sad to say that I don’t have a small family run wine store close by where I live. There is a fantastic one on the other side of town, but that would have taken 45 minutes to get there. So…I head to the giant wine store close by. I love the selection mostly. Often the more obscure varieties can’t be found there, but there is one wine guy that always has great advice for me. The trouble I find with going there (or anywhere) to pick up wine is that in trying to be all crunchy granola I take my wine bag with me. Well my wine bag holds 4 bottles and I feel the need to fill it. I picked up 2 roses because it is summer and it’s hot in Vegas! And then I search through the Syrah’s. I love a smoky syrah. If it has a little meat on the nose, all the better (yes I know that is bret!). I settle on a Syrah from Chile, a 2009 Ona Anakena. I also pick up French Syrah-Mouvedre blend This is a 2010 Luc Pirlet Reserve. Now back to get cooking!
Here is my adapted version of the ingredients
3 medium size golden beets
1/4 cup of pine nuts (or more)
2 ounces of pancetta (You can be kind to the piggies and leave this out and go vegetarian. I admit to feeling guilty.)
1 med red onion (I actually had 3 very small ones from the garden)
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (I used balsamic)
4 ounces of pasta (I had great big macaroni from a local pasta shop! Shout out to Marc http://www.parmabychefmarc.com/ !)
1 small bunch of beet greens (or in my case swiss chard)
sea salt, ground pepper
fresh grated parmesan cheese (that wasn’t in the recipe, but….)
I had roasted my beets earlier in the day. Take each beet, trim the greens off and the end of the root. Wash and scrub them then rub them with olive oil and wrap each in aluminum foil. Pop them into a 375 degree oven for 45 min to an hour. If you have really big beets it could take them up to 1 1/2 hrs. Take one out and open it and see if a knife will easily go in. If so, they are ready. To keep them warm I kept them on the stove while I cooked the rest of the meal.
Next you toast your pine nuts in a small frying pan over med heat stirring until they are lightly toasted. I cheated and bought mine pre toasted at Trader Joe’s.
Next chop the beet greens or chard about 1 inch sections. Keep the stems separate from the greens.
About now you would want to start the pasta water.
Now get a large skillet and toss in the pancetta. Cook it until it is crispy then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Leave the grease! Lower the heat to medium add a little olive oil and toss in the chopped onion. After a few minutes add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the red wine or balsamic vinegar and cook another 2 minutes. This will thicken the vinegar and give it that rich flavor.
Now toss in your beet stems (just the stems) and 1/4 cup of water. Cover and cook 10 minutes.
Add the greens and pancetta and cook another 10. When you add the greens, it’s also time to add the pasta to the pasta water.
At this point with 10 minutes to wait I decided to peel
my beets. I peeled them by hand. The skins slid right off. And…my beets were golden so my hands didn’t turn pink. If you are using red beets, you might want gloves. If the skins don’t slide off used a knife. Then cut the beets in quarters or eighth’s and rewrap in the aluminum foil to keep them warm.
After the 10 minutes add 1/2 the pine nuts (I admit, I added the entire 1/4 cup, cause I like pine nuts). This is where you season to taste with salt and pepper. To taste…means taste it! Pancetta is salty so you will already be seasoned and you don’t want to over do it.
Remove the pasta from the pasta water with a strainer and add to the pan with the sauce. Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water to incorporate the sauce. Then I grated parmesan cheese on top and mixed, and grated some more and mixed, and one last time for good measure.
Plate it on a large dish, pasta in the center, beets around the edge. Sprinkle the beets with sea salt (I used pink himalayan salt) and top the pasta with a little more grated parmesan and some more pine nuts. Voila!
The pairings were perfect. The earthiness of the beets and greens works nicely with the syrah. I preferred the Syrah Mouvedre blend because of it’s smoothness. There was no heat from alcohol (it was at 13.5 %) and was really velvety and layered.