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pasta primavera with beet greens…and a cocktail


n.b.: I’d love to use a more hokey title like “My dish beets yours” or something similarly cutesy, but I am trying my best to follow sage techie advice and stick with SEO basics. Boorrring. Moving on…

Recently I stumbled upon another cleanse regimen, this time a {food lover’s cleanse} via Bon Appetit. I like their concept in principle because they assembled two weeks worth of menu (ideal length, I think) and provided snazzy photos with easily printed recipes (week one and week two) and a shopping list. For free! In practice, however, purchasing the entire list of ingredients would be going kamikaze on our grocery budget.  Manila clams, three kinds of specialty flours, pine nuts, and white miso? Sure, I’ll get right on that!

Although I’m not planning on following their cleanse completely, or even half-heartedly, I am intrigued by some of the recipes. Take Five-Spice Beet Soup (please!), which had me zipping over to Penzey’s Spices to purchase Chinese five-spice powder finally. Usually I just approximate the flavors, but I’m excited to have the real deal this time (which, FYI, is a blend of cassia cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger, and cloves). Do you have a Penzey’s near you? I’m pleased to report we have one in our neighborhood. I rarely go there, but when I do, I smile the entire time with smug satisfaction over my brilliant shopping choice. Also, I leave the kids in the car. Also, I wish I had big cash money so I could buy cardamom pods and annatto seed and Ceylon cinnamon. Ahhhhhh. And look y’all, Penzey’s gave me a bumper sticker with their adorable logo on it. For free! My love of the freeness is everlasting and true.
I grabbed a bunch of beets at my farmer’s market and immediately noticed how wonderfully edible the greens looked, as opposed to the way they usually seem to arrive either wilted, half-eaten by bugs (misty watercolored veggie CSA memories), or bruised. I was so excited to eat them, I turned some of them into a smoothie for us as soon as we got home. They were as delicious as Attainable Sustainable promised. Luckily I only needed a small handful for the drink, so I was free to brainstorm what I might do with them at dinner. I had gotten cherry tomatoes, parsley, and mint for tabbouleh (yes, out of season. Grown indoors in MA. Our “season” is so short, I couldn’t wait!), so I was inspired by those flavors to make a pasta primavera-ish dish.

Ain’t they purty?

Holy mouth love! Boy was I ever spot-on with my guess. I arrived at the inspiration by tasting some of the greens raw; I highly recommend tasting your greens before cooking them, as the taste always seems to suggest the perfect counterpart (garlic! lemon! pepper flakes!). In the case of beet greens, I think they are a wonderful replacement for spinach or swiss chard, but they are less heavy than those; they have a slightly tangy note to them that reminds me of arugula. If you can find beet greens, I give this dish two enthusiastic green and purple thumbs up…yuk yuk (take that, SEO. You can take my title, but you’ll never take my freedom!).

pasta primavera with beet greensserves: probably two, but I ate the whole darn thing myself
2-3 cups pasta*, cooked according to pkg directions 1 bunch beet greens, chopped2 c. cherry tomatoes, halvedolive oil3 cloves garlic, minced2 Tbs. to 1/4 c. parsley, chopped (to taste)2 Tbs. to 1/4 c. mint, chopped (to taste)1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated1/2 of a lemon1 Tbs. buttersalt and pepper
Blanch beet greens** in a skillet of boiling water for 1 minute, then immediately move to ice water and then to a towel-lined plate. Squeeze out any excess water. 
Return skillet to stove and saute garlic in olive oil over medium heat for two minutes; add tomatoes and continue sauteing three minutes. Add remaining ingredients (beet greens, lemon juice, pasta, butter, salt & pepper, parm cheese, parsley, and mint), and remove from heat.
*Doesn’t have to be wagon wheels and curly q’s, but they are more fun. Obvs.

**Note: If you like more of a bite to your greens, you could probably skip this step and put them directly into the saute pan.

And now, the cocktail… 
I guess the simplest name for this drink is a rum screwdriver. It’s my dad’s favorite drink. I was missing him yesterday so decided to pick up a bottle of Gosling’s dark rum and my last bag of pink grapefruits of the season and make myself one.
rum screwdriver
2 parts grapefruit juice1 part dark rumiceseltzer water
Add juice and rum over chilled glass and ice, and top with seltzer. This drink is typically served with sweeter orange juice, so I’ve considered making another mint syrup and adding it for sweetness. You can also skip the seltzer and add more juice, but I personally like fizzy drinks best.

p.s. A quick word about olive oil: In case you missed it, Tom Ashbrook covered olive oil in a recent On Point segment. If you are interested in learning about the truth regarding where your olive oil really comes from (or if, like me, you’ve ever wondered why there’s no “Virgin Olive Oil” or “just plain olive oil”), you should listen to it. For instance, did you know there is no agency to verify whether an olive oil is actually “extra virgin,” which essentially makes the term pointless? And, did you know many olive oil makers combine oil from hundreds of factories in many different countries into every bottle (even the ones you thought you could trust! I’m talking to you, Filippo Berio)? I am lucky to live in Boston, where a company called Aria (see above photo) directly imports their olive oil from Crete. At $11.50/500ml, it is more expensive than what we were buying, but not that much more, and it is amazingly delicious and fragrant. It has a rich hue and almost has a pepperiness to it, which was a pleasant surprise.

Editor’s note: This post is part of Fight Back Friday and Sunday School

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