Recipe: beetroot leaves and spaghetti 

Title graphic: beetroot leaves and spaghetti
Almost without trying, we grew some beetroot. We bought a packet of Unwins Gourmet Mix from the garden centre, sprinkled them into the soil and, apart from a bit of watering, pretty much left them to it.

And look what they produced: stunning colourful orbs that tasted as good as they looked.

Their characteristic earthy flavour had a delicious sweetness. We immediately grated one of the white ones raw into a salad. Wonderful!
Red, orange, pink and white beetroot.

Even the leaves, which were vibrant and lush, looked really edible. So we thought we’d try them.

You can eat beetroot leaves raw or treat them as you would spinach.

I decided to cook them and serve them with spaghetti. Here’s what I did. It’s a bit of a store cupboard recipe, using things I happened to have in.

Method

Andrew had removed the leaves from the beetroot a couple of days ago. Apparently, this is best done by tearing the stalks off rather than cutting them.

He cleaned the leaves and put them in the fridge in a plastic bag.

I started by cutting the leaves from the stalks. I chopped the stalks into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces, and cut the leaves into 2cm strips.

I put 3 tbsp of oil in a pan. This was a mixture of the flavoured oil left over from a jar of sundried tomatoes and rapeseed oil.

I added 3 cloves of crushed garlic and a large pinch of chilli flakes.

A pan with oil, crushed garlic and chilli flakes
I tipped the stalks into the pan and cooked for 3 minutes over a medium heat.

At the same time, I put spaghetti on to boil, remembering to add plenty of salt to the water. It is said that pasta water should be as salty as the Mediterranean.

Beetroot stalks added to the pan
When the stalks had begun to wilt, I added the chopped leaves.

The pan filled with the chopped beetroot leaves
I wilted the leaves, adding salt, freshly ground black pepper and the juice of half a lemon.

The leaves wilted in no time, and I gave them the occasional stir so they cooked evenly.

Just as the leaves were looking like they were ready, so was the spaghetti.

Wilted beetroot leaves in the pan
I drained the spaghetti, keeping some of the cooking liquid.

I tipped the spaghetti into the pan with the beetroot leaves, then added 50g (just under 2 ounces) of Parmesan (you could use a vegetarian alternative) and the juice of the other half of the lemon.

As it happened, I didn’t feel I needed the pasta water because of the amount of liquid that the lemon added.

I checked the seasoning, then placed the food into serving bowls. Finally, I sprinkled over a little more Parmesan, black pepper and a scattering of pine nuts just before serving.

Pine nuts sprinkled over the spaghetti with beetroot leaves

Even if I say so myself, this was amazing. Next time, I might just toast the pine nuts. But apart from that, I think I nailed it.

Ingredients

A large bunch of beetroot leaves – say 400-500g. Or you could use spinach.

3 tbsp olive/rape seed oil

3 garlic cloves

Large pinch of chilli flakes

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

50g Parmesan cheese (or vegetarian alternative)

Handful of pine nuts

250g spaghetti

Serves 2

Do you have a recipe recommendation?

If you have a favourite way of eating beetroot leaves, please let us know. We’d love to try it!

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2 thoughts on “Recipe: beetroot leaves and spaghetti 

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