Thursday, 18 October 2007
A bonus with getting a fresh bunch of beetroot at this time of the year are the succulent leaves you should get with them. Beautiful ruby red veined leaves sprouting quite dramatically from the top of a beetroot are a rare sight in a supermarket, but if you know a good local provider, you must take advantage of this leaf.
Like the tops of a fresh bunch of carrots, I know that people often just cut them off and take them to the compost heap or the bin. But the chard, or leaf beet, is a vegetable in its own right and it is good habit to use it in the same way you would with spinach. Lightly steamed or blanched, a good knob of butter and a little seasoning, it is arguably tastier than spinach and it looks sensational.
A quick, tasty and healthy pasta recipe is always good to turn to when time is against you and mouths need to be fed. This recipe uses my favourite beet leaf along with bacon, onions and a little créme fraiche which can be stirred into any pasta. Spinach would work perfectly well, but there is something about the red ribbed leaf of a beetroot that taints your food with a mild pink that appeals to me. And 10 minutes for the time it takes the pasta to boil to whip up a lovely seasonal sauce has to be good news.
Beet Leaf and Bacon Penne
The tops of 6 beetroots, removed, washed and roughly chopped
6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, cut into small slices
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
A pinch of chilli
1 small tub of low fat créme fraiche
Freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 - Bring a pan of water to the boil and add a quantity of pasta to feed your number.
2 - Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan then add the onions and bacon. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion is softened and bacon is beginning to crisp.
3 - Add the beet leaf along with the garlic and chilli, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring all of the time until wilted and reduced and much of the water has evaporated.
4 - Stir in the créme fraich, plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a good grating of Parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning.
5 - Drain the pasta then pour into the frying pan with the sauce. Coat and then serve in bowls with more Parmesan cheese.