Beet Greens and Pasta

I admit, I had intended a very different blog post extolling the delectable virtues of greens with eggs.  Greens are still very plentiful right now, and one of my favourite ways of eating them up has always been with eggs.  A spinach frittata, scrambled eggs with kale, some swiss chard folded into quiche…  all such wonderful ways to savour the flavour of the greens when you have some good free-range eggs to play a supporting role.

But…. this weekend was really hot.  I had planned on making a quiche – but I really didn’t feel like turning on the oven when I was trying to keep the house cool.  Plus – when I looked in the fridge, there were only two eggs left.  (Thanks, dear husband!)  I could always fry up my beet greens with more hot mango pickle – but I was kind of stuck on the eggs thing.

Then it hit me – Pasta Carbonara.

Carbonara is a creamy pasta sauce traditionally made with only three ingredients:  egg yolks, parmesan cheese, and pancetta (well, actually guanciale if you’re a purist).  I’m sure the Italians never made it with beet greens, but necessity is the mother of invention – so I decided to break some rules.  First of all – I had no linguini, or spaghetti, or any other long noodle.  Fusilli it is!  And I only had a hard old rind of pancetta, so I used some of my honey cured bacon I smoked last week.  It was still a great way to combine greens and eggs in a non-traditional way!

Pasta Carbonara with Beet Greens

(makes 2-3 portions)

Boil pasta in salty water.

While pasta is boiling, cut up a tablespoon or two of pancetta or bacon in small pieces, and fry it up.  (Amounts to about two slices of store-bought bacon.)

Right after the bacon has started to crisp, add a large bunch of cleaned and roughly chopped beet greens,  and stir around in the pan to wilt.  Take pan off the heat, and cover with a lid to steam.

Crack open two eggs, and put yolks into large bowl.  Refrigerate the whites for later use.  (Maybe make an egg-white omelette with greens?)   Grate some parmesan cheese, or any other strongly flavoured, hard cheese, into the bowl and mix with the egg yolks.

When pasta is done, strain and then immediately pour the pasta into the bowl with the egg yolks.   The hot pasta will actually cook the yolks as they come into contact with each other, so make sure you thoroughly stir it up!

When the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce, add the hot wilted beet greens and bacon to the pasta and mix well.  Top with a bit of freshly ground pepper and some more grated parmesan and you’re ready to eat!

Are there any traditional recipes that you like to modify by adding greens?  Tell us about it in the comments below!

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