Pasta with Greens

Beet greens. Who knew? Well, everyone, I hope. I’m on a personal mission to get eaters to enjoy their beet greens instead of—gasp!—throwing them away. And turnip greens, too. We may buy these foods for their roots, but the greens are equally attention worthy. They are as tasty as any other sautéing green, such as the newly minted rock star, kale—so much so, that you should really consider the health and vibrancy of these greens as much as the roots when you are purchasing your beets and turnips, so you can be sure you enjoy the one-two punch of both terrific parts of the plant. This is my go-to meal when I don’t have a meal to go to at the end of a busy day. You can use beet greens that have already been sautéed and refrigerated or frozen, or just give them a quick sizzle in the pan while the noodles are boiling. The recipe makes a terrific blank slate for using up small amounts of leftovers you might have on hand. You can toss in some cooked chicken, meat, seafood or vegetables, if you have them at the ready, or throw in a can of white beans, as I’ve suggested here. Or just serve the Pasta with Greens as is. Either way, the end result is satisfying comfort food in a flash. Note: Starting the garlic in a cold pan may seem like an odd step, but it’s the best way to extract the flavor from the cloves.
September 12, 2016


Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water, for 1 minute less than the time indicated on the box (the pasta should be al dente, with a tiny dot of resistance at its center). Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

While the pasta is boiling, place the oil and garlic in a large saute pan over medium heat. Once the oil begins to heat and the garlic begins to sizzle, stir it for 30 to 60 seconds, until fragrant. If the garlic begins to brown, lower the heat immediately; scorched garlic is bitter. Add the diced ribs to the pan and saute until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the greens to the pan and toss to coat them with the garlic and oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, lower the heat to medium-low and saute until wilted, stirring occasionally. Add the beans, protein or other vegetables, if using, and heat through, stirring occasionally.

Add the cooked pasta and ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to the pan and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until the pasta is cooked through.

Remove from the heat and stir in half of the grated cheese to create a light sauce, adding more pasta water if necessary to loosen the mixture. Add the pepper flakes, give a final stir, and adjust the seasoning. Divide among 4 serving bowls and top with the remaining cheese.

About this recipe

Recipes excerpted from Eat It Up!: 150 Recipes to Use Every Bit and Enjoy Every Bite of the Food You Buy by Sherri Brooks Vinton. Copyright c 2016. Available from Da Capo Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc. Available wherever books are sold.


  • 8 ounces pasta, any shape you like
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 cups beet or turnip greens, from 1 bunch of beets or turnips, leaves separated from ribs and leaves chopped, ribs diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed, or up to 2 cups cooked chicken, meat, seafood or vegetables (optional)
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about ½ cup)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
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