I am always experimenting with food. I was in the farmers market the other day and saw some really great fresh beets with greens attached. I also saw a lovely pile of fresh fava beans in their hulls. I love the idea of not letting anything go to waste, using every bit of food for both flavor & nutrition, and basically saving money.
I love beets. Everything about them is good. I think people who don’t like beets are confused by the pickled version in salad bars, that are so one note, though I like them too. Roasted, beets become delectable. It brings out their sweetness and texture. Beets are not only delicious and beautiful but are extremely versatile. The best thing about beets is that they are all get out healthy in so many ways. Just to name a few; they detoxify the liver while having major cancer fighting properties, their high fiber and betacyanin content reduce cholesterol, heart disease and colon cancer. Beets are also known to help combat diabetes. And by the way, they were first cultivated by the ancient Romans, originating in North Africa.
I wanted to use all of the parts of the beets and the fava beans and combine them with other elements to make a really delicious and nutritious, and of course beautiful, meal. Beet greens are slightly bitter, much like Swiss chard and are even more nutritious than the beetroot, which is sweet and balances the greens. The stems are colorful like the root and have the nutrition of both, though a little tough, are tamed with the proper cooking. Fava beans, as with all legumes, are high in protein and reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. They are creamy in texture and quite delicious when cooked.
The crowning note on this experimental recipe is the way the beets lend their color and flavor to the pasta. I was thrilled as a food stylist.
I came up with a Penne Pasta Beet and Fava Bean entree.
Penne Pasta with Beets and Fava Beans
- 2 quarts boiling salted water
- 4 small fresh beets with greens
- A large hand full of fresh Fava beans in hulls
- 2 small scallions
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/4 cup of olive oil, divided
- 1 small hot red pepper, with seeds removed, crushed
- 6 fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup Penne pasta
- 1/8 cup shredded Romano Cheese
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Separate and wash beet root, stems and leaves.
- Roast beet roots for 30 minutes in a 350′ oven on a cookie sheet.
- Let cool. Peel with a knife or vegetable peeler. Quarter and marinate in a one quart bowl with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil while you prepare the rest of the meal.
- In salted boiling water cook fava beans with their hulls separated for 15 minutes, until beans are tender. Drain and discard hulls. Place drained beans into the beet bowl. Don’t throw away the boiling water. You will use it to boil your pasta.
- Slice scallions and saute on medium low heat in a pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil for about two minutes. Remove scallions from saute pan and add to bowl of fava beans and beets.
- Chop beet stems into one inch bits and add to the oil you just sauteed the scallions in with minced shallots and crushed hot pepper for about 5 minutes until tender. Remove vegetables and place into the bowl with the beans, scallions and beets.
- Chop beet greens and saute in the same skillet you just used, until tender. Place in the bowl of the other ingredients.
- Boil the penne pasta in the water that you boiled the beans in. Add more water if necessary to bring it back to 2 quarts.*
- Chop basil leaves and add to bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with Romano cheese.
An added note. I found brown rice and golden flax seed pasta from Hodgson Mills that is great for glucose intolerant people, and is also a wonderful nutritional ingredient for everybody. Whole brown rice is an excellent source of remedy for arthritis, and flax seed is one of the best sources of omega 3’s, that combats heart disease and is great for any an all skin conditions.