With farmers market season winding down and autumn in full swing, I am finding more inspiration for cooking from root vegetables. It had been a while since I had eaten beets, so I picked up a purplish red bunch. I knew I would roast them, but that left me with the leafy greens I admit can end up in the trash even though I know they are perfectly edible and nutritious. The window to use them before they wilt is short, and sometimes I just don’t get my act together. This time was different, and I decided to reinvent my standard pesto.
Beet green pesto is far more intense than classic basil pesto. Its deep forest hue hints at the subtle bitter undertones commonly found in all hearty winter greens. Armed with a jar of pesto in my fridge, I made a simple tagliatelle that used roasted beets from the same bunch. A few days later looking for a quick weeknight dinner, I toasted sandwiches smeared with beet green pesto and layered with roasted beet slices, arugula and goat cheese. Those beet tops will never get tossed aside again.
Beet Green Pesto
Makes about 1-1/2 cups
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 bunch beet greens (about 4 ounces), thick stems removed
1/2 cup walnuts
1 ounce Parmesan, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Pulse the garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade until they are minced. Add the beet greens, walnuts, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Puree the mixture and while the motor is running, drizzle the olive oil through the feeder tube until the pesto is fully combined.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.