Friday, August 10, 2007

Presto Pasta Night #24

For this edition of Presto Pasta Night you could well say that I trying to make a dish out of nothing.

The pasta I've chosen is quite a common one

pipe rigate ©

and it's called Pipe Rigate (or Striped Pipes). These types of shapes are well suited to hearty sauces and strong flavours, the bent hollow shape providing a place for sauce to pool.

I'll be teaming this pasta in with an ingredient that is usually thrown away.

beetroot stems ©

Not beetroot (or beets) but the stems and leaves. When I was at the market getting beetroots for another dish the ones I selected had the most fantastically fresh stems and leaves attached. It would indeed have been a waste not to use these.

The idea for this recipe is based on a traditional pasta dish that uses Cime di Rape which are Turnip greens. Here I am using a simple base of onions, garlic and pancetta to which the beetroot stems and leaves will be added.

The result - wonderfully colourful if I do say so myself!

pipe rigate with beet stems, leaves and pancetta ©

Pipe Rigate with Pancetta, Beet Stems and Leaves

Pipe Rigate

Pancetta, cut into a small dice
1 red onion, sliced finely
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
stems and leaves from 3 beetroots (beets)
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Separate the leaves from the stems.
Cook the stems in a pot of boiling water until starting to soften. Drain and cut into small pieces.
Roughly shred the leaves and set aside.

Heat up a little oil (you don't need to use much as the pancetta will release more as it cooks) and add the diced pancetta - cook over a medium heat until crisp. Turn the heat down and add the sliced onions and garlic and allow these to slowly sweat.

When the onions have softened and started to colour add the diced beetroot stems. Cook this slowly allowing the beetroot stems to release their colour and absorb the pan flavours.

When the pasta is almost cooked, add the leaves - toss them well through the mixture and keep them on the heat to wilt.

Taste and adjust the seasoning adding salt and pepper if required - depending on the pancetta you probably won't need to add any other seasoning.

Add the just drained pasta and toss through the sauce, keeping it on the heat. Sprinkle over with a handful of grated Parmigiano and cook for a minute, allowing the cheese to melt through the pasta.

Place into bowls and top with another sprinkle of Parmigiano.

pipe rigate with beet stems, leaves and pancetta ©

Full of flavour and colour, it will delight all your senses.

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  1. love your pasta - love the colour. it makes me hungry. perfect.

  2. The colors are so perfect. I never thought to use the beet stems and leaves with pasta. Actually, like you said, I usually throw them away. Will try using them next time. THey taste just like the beet?

  3. Amazing what you can make out of "nothing". I love how the beet stems and leaves bring a great color to the dish. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

  4. Haalo, I love it that you used the stems - they usually go to the garbage can!
    The color is really pretty and such a healthy pasta dish!

  5. I love the colors!! I don't think that I will be able to find the stems here, but I will be looking now!

  6. This looks breathtaking! I want to try this immediately. I've been eying the fancy heirloom beets at the farmer's market but I didn't know what to do with them, until now!

  7. Thanks Myriam!

    Thanks Jaden - yes the stems have the taste of beetroot.

    Thanks Ruth - the beet stems just leech colour out and the leaves turn a lovely dark green when cooked.

    Thanks Patricia - next time you'll have to keep the stems!

    Thanks Deborah - I hope you find them, even here a lot time the beets are sold with the stems removed.

    Thanks Dayna - oh it would be lovely to use the heirloom beets.

  8. Wow - great colour. And I love the little curlicues of grated parmesan. How flavoursome are the stems?

  9. Thanks Y - the stems taste very much like the beetroot itself, the texture is just a little different.

  10. Those colors are just amazing! I think I'm going to have to dig up the lawn and plant some beets next year, as it's downright impossible to find beets with greens that aren't totally wilted here.

  11. Thanks Deinin - just think how tasty your beets will be growing them yourself!

  12. I also use the leaves, making a simple salad out of them, which are boiled, drained and, quickly while still hot, drizzled with some olive oil, vinegar (or lemon juice) and some salt, before being tossed together to serve. A quick tasty snack can also be had by whacking a forkful of the beet leaf salad onto some fresh crusty bread with a hunk of feta, seasoning with cracked pepper and indulging. Yum!

    You won't believe the number of times i'm reminding market vendors not to remove the leaves from bunches i'm buying, as i want to use the leaves too.

  13. This is the first time I see somebody using the stems and leaves of beetroots. It may sound strange or with no sens, like most of childhood memories are, but my siblings and I used to call this kind of pasta, panties pasta!
    Still don't know why!

  14. Hi SL - it's a sad sight to see when they just rip those beautiful stems from the beetroots especially when they could be used in your great recipes!

    Hi Rose - I've never heard them called that before, I wonder how they came to be known as panties pasta.

  15. I belong to a CSA and for the last two weeks have gotten a lot of beets. This is an incredible recipe and is absolutely delicious! I used a whole wheat rotini and added bits of cubed beets. Absolutely delicious. This is now one of my favorite recipes! :)


  16. Thanks Lissa - happy to hear you've enjoyed the recipe!

  17. An earthy pasta dish with a taste suited to the wintry months. Two strips of bacon substituted well for the pancetta, which I never have. I also used medium and small shell pasta instead of the "underpants" pasta. This recipe would feed three for dinner, or more as a side dish.
    I am writing a blog entry on "Two-for-one Vegetables" with recipes and would like to use this, in whole or as a link. How can I do that?

  18. I love all of the beet, I will try this recipe soon. I find the leaves are my favorite green, like spinach but no chalky taste. The roots are sweet of course, and really nice roasted. The stems i find somewhere in between but always cook them along with the greens.

    I have a vendor at my local farmers market who removes them from beets she sells and then sells me the stems and greens really cheap :)


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