Looking Out My Backdoor – November 25, 2013

This past Saturday was breezy but relatively warm, around 50 or so.  A cold front was to come through overnight and I wanted to finish raking leaves before that arctic blast arrived.  I uncovered a little periwinkle flower as I raked.

Periwinkle Flower - November 23, 2013

Periwinkle Flower – November 23, 2013

The cold air arrived overnight accompanied by howling winds.  The next morning, there was a very light dusting of snow and the temperature was around 20.  And the wind was still howling.  Of course, I had to go outside and see if there were any photo opportunities…

Leaf, Pine Needles and Dusting of Snow on Periwinkle - November 24, 2013

Leaf, Pine Needles and Dusting of Snow on Periwinkle – November 24, 2013

After I finished raking the day before, the yard looked pretty good.  But the wind that had started overnight found lots of leaves to spread all over the yard and even brought down a few smaller branches of the trees out by the barn.

Frozen Water in Birdbath

Frozen Water in Birdbath

The water in the little copper birdbath was frozen solid and the lambs ears were sprinkled with snow.  Even though the sun was brilliant, the temperature never got out of the 20s all day.

Dusting on Lambs Ears

Dusting on Lambs Ears

Let’s move from the frigid outdoors to the nice warm kitchen now.  The other day I made some roasted vegetables and I used organic golden beets, brussel sprouts and more.  The beets were especially beautiful…very fresh and the tops were too gorgeous to discard, so I saved them and tried to figure out what recipe I could use them in.

Golden Beet Tops

Golden Beet Tops

I came up with a winner…Pasta With Beet Greens.  My version is a slight variation of the recipe from Diary of a Foodie, Season Three.  Along with the beet greens and pasta, it has balsamic vinegar, toasted pine nuts, oil cured olives and golden raisins.  I used to avoid combining sweet and savory items together in a recipe.  I wanted my sweets sweet and my savory savory.  No intermingling.  But the combination of the plump sweet raisins with the tangy salty brine of the olives in this dish works!

Balsamic Vinegar, Oil Cured Olives, Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts

Balsamic Vinegar, Oil Cured Olives, Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts

I’ve never eaten oil cured olives before.  I have a friend who eats oil cured olive sandwiches.  These olives have pits mind you.  He just sprinkles some of these olives on white bread and carefully chomps away, spitting out the pits as he goes.  I know I would break a tooth doing this if I were so inclined to eat one of these sandwiches, which I am not!  The recipe goes like this:

Pasta With Beet Greens

1/4 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, finely choppped
2 medium red onions (1 lb.) halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 lbs. beet greens with stems (stems cut in 1 inch pieces and greens sliced)
1 cup of water, divided
3/4 lb. of penne
1/3 cup of golden raisins
1/2 cup of pitted brine cured black olives, coarsely chopped

Heat oil in a 12 inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers.  Add pine nuts and toast, stirring until golden, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a plate with slotted spoon.

Toasted Pine Nuts

Toasted Pine Nuts

Add garlic to oil  remaining in skillet and cook, stirring, until golden.  Add onions and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occassionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.  Add vinegar and cook, stirring, until most is evaporated, about 2 minutes.  Add beet stems, 3/4 cup water, and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until stems begin to soften, about 12 minutes.

Sauted Beet Greens

Sauted Beet Greens

Cook penne in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 Tbsp. salt for 6 qt. water) until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta.

Meanwhile, add raisins, then beet leaves to onion mixture in handfuls, turing each handful with tongs, until beet leaves are wilted before adding next batch.  Add remaining 1/4 cup water and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 5 to 6 minutes.  Add olives, then add past and cook, tossing and moistening with some of the cooking water as necessry, just until liquid has thickened slightly.  Serve sprinkled with pine nuts.

That is the recipe as written.  Because I don’t have a skillet that would be large enough to saute the vegetables and then add the pasta to that mix and also because I have an aversion to using more pots and pans than I feel is really necessary, I cooked the pasta first and drained it, saving 1 cup of the cooking water.  I then dried that same pot, added the oil, toasted the pine nuts in it and continued with the recipe.  

I added an additional sprinkling of balsamic vinegar just before serving and I sprinkled goat cheese on the top (which I really think nicely completes this dish).  It is marvelous!  The toasted pine nuts are so wonderful and their crunchy goodness goes so well with all the other ingredients. 

Pasta With Beet Greens

Pasta With Beet Greens

Swiss chard could easily replace the beet greens here, so you don’t have to wait for a nice bunch of beet greens to appear.  Try it, I think you will like it.

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