Whole Wheat Rotini with Sautéed Beet Greens and Tomatoes

A shout out to all you vegans, vegetarians and healthier eaters!  This pasta dish is for you.  Not entirely into healthier, meat and/or dairy free meals, no worries.  You can adapt this to suit your needs and  use what you have available in your cupboards.  This pasta dish was a make-do meal utilizing some amazingly fresh and beautiful beet greens that came with a bunch of beets I purchased at Sue's Produce in Center City yesterday. It's my favorite kind of meal - you buy one product and get a "two-for-one" -  wonderful beets and tasty useful greens. This and an idea shared with me from a friend on sautéing beet greens with some garlic and a splash of balsamic vinegar to brighten the flavors was just the inspiration I needed to make tonight's meal - healthy, vegetarian and kosher-lunch friendly for my lunch tomorrow at the synagogue.   Feel free to swap out ingredients, such as chard or spinach for the beet greens; vegetable or chicken stock for the porcini bouillon stock I used; white beans for the garbanzo; and regular pasta for the whole wheat (though there are many great whole wheat or healthier alternative pastas out there other than the standard).  A side of grilled chicken, steak, or shrimp might also round out the meal for the carnivore at your dining room table!

Whole Wheat Rotini Pasta with Sautéed Beet Greens and Diced Tomatoes Ingredients:
  • 1/2 Pound Uncooked Whole Wheat Rotini, Penne or Farfale Pasta - cooked according to package directions /al dente
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion - Small Dice
  • 3 to 4 Garlic Cloves - minced
  • 1 Large Bunch of Beet Greens and Stems - thoroughly washed & rinsed, Stems cut into 1 inch pieces and Leaves Cut into Large Ribbons
  • 1/4 Cup Sweet Vermouth or Dry Red Wine
  • 1 Mushroom or Porcini Bouillon Cube - disolved into 1 cup of hot water (or 1 Cup of Veg or Chicken Stock)
  • 1/2 Cup Chick Peas/Garbanzo Beans or White Beans - Drained & Rinsed
  • 1 - 14 to 16 ounce Can No-Salt Diced Tomatoes and their juices
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Good Quality Aged Balsamic Vinegar - Optional
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Italian Seasonings
  • Grated Cheese for Serving - Optional
Directions:
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.  Add in a tablespoon of salt, stir and then add in the dry pasta.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions, just until the pasta is al dente.  Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Keep the pasta warm and set aside, covered in the cooking pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the two tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer.  Add in the onions and garlic and saute until the onions turn translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. 
  3. Add in the beet stems and saute another 2 to 3 minutes.  Next, add in the beet greens and cover the pan, letting the greens wilt and decrease in volume, about 2 minutes. 
  4. Pour in the vermouth or wine and reduce down to a just a tablespoon or two, about 4 minutes.  Once the vermouth/wine is reduced, add in the stock and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and add in the chick peas and diced tomatoes.  Season with a pinch of salt, the freshly ground black pepper and the dried Italian seasonings, and if using a splash or tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and allow the mixture to simmer about 3 to 4 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Next add in the cooked pasta, stirring to incorporate and to tighten the sauce.  If the mixture seems too dry, add in a bit of the reserved pasta cooking water.  
  6. Serve hot with grated cheese if desired.  Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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