Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pasta alla Belinda

The inspiration for dinner last night began when Bel came into the office with a bag of beet greens. She had used the beets but brought the greens to me because she knows me well enough to know I'd make good use of them.  I've never cooked with beet greens before, but here's what I came up with...

It was an all day rain... gloomy for days. So a good belly-filling pasta made sense to me. This is how pasta alla Belinda was born.

First, the sauce. It's an artichoke and dry salami red sauce. Made from scratch but almost as easy as dumping in a jar of marinara.

In a heavy sauce pan heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Add chopped salami, onion and garlic along with crushed red pepper, dried Italian herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Saute until onions are translucent and salami is starting to brown a bit. Add 2-3 Tbsp tomato paste and incorporate.

Add 1 quart tomato puree and chopped artichokes and stir to combine. Simmer 10-20 minutes to your desired thickness. If you want it even thicker, just add more tomato paste.

Next, the noodles and greens.

Preparing the greens just involves a very rough chop and lots of rinsing. You don't want dirty grit in your pasta! Also make sure to pick out any slimy greens or any that have begun to brown.

Because I can't tell the difference I always use whole wheat noodles. My husband doesn't notice the difference either and he is definitely not a whole wheat kind of guy. These noodles have really been improved over the last couple years. Good news there!

Anyway, prepare the noodles according to package instructions, making sure to add salt to taste. I chose thin spaghetti, but feel free to use any type of noodle you have on hand.

Then during the last 3-4 minutes of cooking time, add your washed and chopped beet greens.

Strain them together in a colander when the noodles are done al dente.

Lastly, plate it up!

Top noodles with sauce and grate some fresh Parmesan on top if you wish. Serve with some crusty bread and a glass of red wine and you're good to go!  This dinner takes about 30 minutes start to finish.

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped dry salami
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp crushed red pepper, more or less to taste
1 tsp dried Italian herb blend
2-3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 jar artichokes, chopped
1 quart pureed tomatoes ( diced tomatoes in juice will also work just fine.)

Heat oil in saucepan. Add next seven ingredients and saute until lightly browned. Add tomato paste and combine. Add artichokes and puree. Simmer 10-20 minutes to desired consistency.

Pasta and greens:
1lb whole wheat pasta
2 bunches beet greens, chopped and thoroughly washed.

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Add greens during the final 3-4 minutes of cook time. Strain. Top with sauce and serve.

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