Sunday, March 23

Creamy Goat Cheese and Beet Green Pasta

creamy goat cheese and beet green pasta

A few weeks ago at the farmers' market I asked for a bunch of beets. The farmer grabbed a beautiful bunch: five crimson colored globes topped with remarkably long, red stalks and large, crisp leafy greens. I could practically taste them.

Then right in front of my eyes, before I could utter a word, he beheaded my beautiful beets and flung the greens into a dirty cardboard box with other sad, misfit vegetables.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"What? You didn't want them did you?" he asked, incredulous.

Didn't want them?
! The beet greens are the best part.

It made me miss Carlos, the farmer from whom I bought beets all last year when we lived in LA. One Sunday when Carlos saw me coming, he ran from the table into the back of his van. He motioned me to follow him. When I reached the back of the van, he uncovered a big box full of fresh bunches of beet greens and flashed me a smile. "For me?" I asked. "For you, Miss."

I actually got a little welled up. In the midst of a bustling market, he thought to save me the beet greens and was less concerned with making extra money off of them than of making me happy.

Though no one could ever replace kind-hearted Carlos, I've met a new, super nice farmer, Sam. The first time I bought beets from Sam, I commented on how beautiful the beets greens were; he asked, "Would you like some more?"

"Really, are you sure you don't want them?" I asked.

"Yeah, you can have them," he said.

Imagine. Giving beet greens away. What is the world coming to?

beets greens on the red carpet

If you've never cooked with beet greens, then you're in for a treat. They taste similar to Swiss chard (slightly earthy and nutty) and are a delicious alternative to spinach. Though they can be eaten raw in salads, I prefer them cooked, which softens their texture and draws out their flavor.

Beet greens are true health food: One cup of cooked beets greens is only 39 calories and provides 220% (that's not a typo) of your daily vitamin A (for healthy eyes, cells, skin, and hair) and 60% of your daily vitamin C (a health-promoting antioxidant). It's also full of other nutritious vitamins and minerals. See below for tips on selecting, storing, and cooking with beet greens.

ahh...fresh fettucine

Though you can use any type of pasta you prefer for this creamy goat cheese and beet green pasta, I bought freshly made fettucine from Assenti's Pasta here in Little Italy. With so few ingredients in this dish, the light and chewy fresh pasta really stands out. It bears little resemblance to the dried boxed variety. Plus the creamy goat cheese sauce clings deliciously to it as you twirl it on your fork.

Creamy Goat Cheese and Beet Green Pasta

Serves 4
Print recipe only here.

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
6 cups washed and sliced beet greens

1/2 pound fettucine (or other noodle)

1/2 cup heavy cream or half n' half
4 ounces goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons pistachios
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

To prepare the beet greens, cut off the thick stalks. Submerge greens in a large bowl of cool water to remove dirt. Drain, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry. Remove any tough inner stalks of the beet green leaves, then slice cross-wise into thin strips. Set aside.

In a deep, heavy pot, cook pasta in salted water according to directions, preferably al dente. If using fresh, it should cook within 3-5 minutes.

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add sliced beet greens, until wilted, about 2-3 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk the cream and goat cheese until well blended. Add to the skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken slightly. Add fresh thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss until well coated. Divide among two plates; top with pistachios and extra grated cheese. Serve immediately.

Serving Suggestion-- This pasta pairs well with spicy and fruity salads, such as:
Selecting and Storing Beet Greens:
  • Look for unwilted, green leaves with bright red spines. If they're shriveled or full of holes, then skip 'em.
  • To prepare beet greens, cut off the thick stalks. Submerge greens in a large bowl of cool water to remove dirt. Drain, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry. Remove any tough inner stalks of the beet green leaves. Wrap loosely in paper towel and place in a Ziploc bag or an air-tight plastic container. They should last 2-3 days in the refrigerator this way. You can also remove the beet greens and store them unwashed in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days, assuming they weren't too old when you purchased them.
  • If you aren't going to use your beet greens right away, then clean them as usual and par-boil them by dropping them in boiling water for about 1 minute; remove and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Shocking the greens will keep them bright and beautiful. Drain, and store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

Other delicious ways to enjoy beets greens:
  • Thinly sliced and added raw to salads
  • Sauteed in olive oil and garlic, and placed on crostini with goat or blue cheese
  • Added to vegetable soups and stews
  • Added to frittatas with cheese such as ricotta, Parmesan, or goat
  • Simply sauteed in olive oil and garlic, then topped with raisins and toasted pine nuts
  • Creamed with milk or heavy cream, butter, flour, and nutmeg
I hope Ramona of The Houndstooth Gourmet likes beet greens because I'm sending this pasta dish to her. She's hosting Weekend Herb Blogging created by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen.

You might also like these pasta dishes:

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brandin + kari said...

This looks great!!! I love beet greens! I love goat cheese! And I LOVE pistachios in pasta. What a great dish. I think I will make it this week and let you know what I think:)

cmoore said...

Hooray! I've wanted to know what to do with beet greens for a while. Lots of room for experimenting, I see...

Manggy said...

ARgh! I've just been to California and I still have no idea what chard/ beet greens are like. Sigh. Something for my next visit, I guess. I have no idea where all the tops of the beets here in the supermarkets go!! It's so annoying!

Sig said...

I used to throw them greens away too until recently when I saw a blog post with a beet green recipe... But the ones I get have never looked so fresh though! Awesome pics Susan!

Susan @ SGCC said...

Wow! You've taught me something new. I don't think I've ever had beet greens. I never even realized that they were edible! The next time I find some nice ones, I'm going to give them a try.

Pille said...

That's a gorgeous, gorgeous bowl, Susan!!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

What brilliant colors! You can practically see the flavor popping out of the photos!

Anonymous said...

I am mad about fetuccine but I've never used beet greens before. And Susan where did you get that cute bowl from?

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I can just imagine the creaminess of the goat cheese with the bitterness of the beet greens -- delicious!

Kalyn Denny said...

This sounds like a fabulous combination. Beet greens are one of the things I remember my mother making when I was a kid, and I always liked them, even then.

Johanna GGG said...

thanks for all this great information - I have been told beet greens are good for me but I have a mental block - probably related to my swiss chard mental block - am trying to overcome it and need to hear from people who love them - I will try harder :-)

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I've never had beet greens before, but it sounds like I'll have to try it! This pasta sounds like a great way to start with them, and you had me drooling with goat cheese.

Anonymous said...

Delicious pasta, love the pots/bowls too!

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

I so love beets...greens and all. I get them from my market and they always have extra greens set aside and yours for the asking.

NĂºria said...

What a nice post, with beautiful pictures and healthy info! YOu know, I never eat beets, I don't think I've seen them in the market... now, I want to try them your way!
YOur post reminded me of a story my father once told me: when he was young, his mother would only use the branch of the swiss chard and his mother in law (my other grandmom) would use only the green! He convinced both to use the whole thing!!! :D

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

To read your post Susan you'd think beet greens would cure the world of all evil and unhealth! My grandmother was always fixing beet greens and I'm sure I ate them but now I don't remember them. I'm going to make it a point of trying them this spring.
Beautiful bowl and gorgeous colors all over here!

Anonymous said...

Amazingly beautiful photos! And I'm so with you on the beet greens. Gotta try that recipe... the combination of the creamy cheese and earthy greens has got to be fabulous.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I will have to give the greens a try. I just bought the beet orbs for the first time this weekend - thought they looked a bit nakkid, but what do I know?!?! Next time I buy beets I'll make sure to have the green. You make them sound so delightful.

xoxox Amy

Suganya said...

I make chutney, rice and dal with beet greens. I wonder how chard and beet greens get their earthy flavor. They are simple beautiful.

Simona Carini said...

I also have to make it clear that I want the greens, not just the beets. And I have also got home with an overflowing bag of greens. I usually make frittata with them. I agree with you that they are really tasty.
I am wondering: what happens to the green cut of from beets sold loose?
Great post, as always.

Anonymous said...

The goat cheese reminded me of this a Gale Gand recipe

Susan from Food Blogga said...

anticiplate-I can't wait to hear from you! :)

cmoore-Definitely. Just be imaginative!

manggy-Well, it looks like you have to come back. ;)

sig-The freshest ones are at the farmers' market if you can get them.

susan-I hope you do; they're sooo good.


tw-Thanks! Aren't they pretty greens? :)

lore-That bowl is a TJ Maxx original-- very, very expensive. I think $1.99? ;)

lydia-Delicious indeed.

kalyn-You were a good kid, then, huh? :)

johanna-Then visit me cause I love them both! :)

mike-Does it every time. :)

linda-Thanks. Who knew those bowls would so popular?

judy-Extras set aside? Now that's a great market!

nuria-That is so funny! I'm for both myself too. :)

tanna-That's it! Beet greens as an edible panacea. Maybe I should contact the USDA about this. ;) Thanks! Glad you like it.

ann-They really do go exceptionally well together.

amy-I hope you try them next time.

suganya-Good question.

simona-Thanks so much! If the greens are sold loose they wouldn't last too long. I know mine last just a few days in the fridge.

anonymous-Just checked it out, and it sounds sensational. Thanks!

Unknown said...

we usually found beet leaves in the mixed greens sold in the supermarkets or farmers' market, together with mizuna, rockets and baby spinach. i like the texture of them together, really.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan! I like the beet greens with oricchette or cannellini beans.
Oh why do they throw our precious beet greens away?! :)

Madame K said...

How to explain the perfect marriage between beets and goats? And then, throwing the greens together with fresh pasta. Well, nothing more needs to be said. I like the addition of pistachios, too. So green and crunchy.

Emily said...

This sounds delicious. I wanted some beet greens to use in a salad, but my grocery store had hacked them off. It made me so mad! And there's no farmer's market here. :(

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Delicious! Beet greens are really refined and tasty... A wonderful pasta dish!



aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Giving them away??!!! It's a good job I don't live anywhere near you, or we might be fighting for them!

Unknown said...

the pasta looks yummmmy!! i love the little green pots too..gosh, i really need to spend some time sourcing for new flatware (any excuse for shopping eh?)

s'kat said...

I love greens, but am also in the camp of having never seen them. I'll be on the lookout when the farmer's market opens up next month!

(love the bowl, too! You can find some really great things at TJ Maxx.)

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, something tells me that 1st farmer wanted all those beet greens for himself! Gorgeous pasta recipe.

Stella said...

Now, I wish I could taste those wonderful beet greens Susan!
it looks sooooo goooood!

Lori Lynn said...

I love your wavy dishes.

Katy said...

gah!!! our beets at the farmer's market come in boxes with no greens in sight!!! i will ask next time if there are any lying around somewhere out of the public eye.

that pasta looks AMAZING. i have been thinking about making fresh pasta quite a bit lately -- this is definitely further inducement!!!

Tempered Woman said...

well color me surprised~ I had no idea about beet greens and I love Swiss Chard. You are just a wealth of information girlfriend! I can't wait to try them, thanks so much.

Ivy said...

Lovely dish Susan. We eat the green leaves in Greece but I have never tried them raw in a salad.

Swati said...

Wow..such fresh and beautiful green Susan. Yeah nuts add a great crunch to pasta.. Lovely dish !!

Lisa Johnson said...

Thanks for this information Susan! I'm not a beet fan at all, so I never even thought of the greens. They look really good! Oh and I love your wildflower pictures below. I've always had a soft spot for wildflowers. I think they're some of the most beautiful flowers around even if they are weeds.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

arfi-They add such flavor to salad mixes like that.

maryann-Oh, yes with oricchette, they're wonderful.

karen-Perhaps it's the earthiness of the greens and the creaminess of the goat cheese? They are the ideal marriage.

emiline-There should be a national "no hack" rule for supermarkets. ;)

rosa-Simple and delicious.

forkful-I've been working out my biceps a lot lately, so you better watch out! ;)

rita-Gotta go shopping? Aw, you poor thing. ;)

s'kat-I love TJ Maxx.

helen-Perhaps you're right. :)

stella-Why, thanks so much!

lori lynn-Aren't they sweet?

katy-Oooh, I do hope you try it. Please let me know!

tempered woman-I'm so glad to be of service. :)

ivy-They're fantastic in salads--hope you try them!

swati-Nuts make everything better, don't they?

anali-Then you would simply adore Anza-Borrego!

Cris said...

These are beautiful pictures! The colors shout at us, so nice! And oh those bowls, aren`t they the cutest thing!

brandin + kari said...

I tried this tonight! I was FANTASTIC. I posted it on my blog and talked about you, of course:) Thanks for a wonderful recipe. I am very impressed.

funwithyourfood said...

hmm I've never had anyone try to throw away my greens before! That would be a tragedy indeed.

good save!


Sia said...

i almost started crying when the farmer in our farmer's market chopped the greens from beets and just packed beets:) i love its earthy flavour and usually use it in indian dals. now u got me drooling at this recipe susan. thank you:)

Rachel said...

I love beet greens too!

David Hall said...

Hi Susan

I love beet greens and I did a similar recipe last year which is on the Blog, not as classy as this mind! Hope you had a great Easter. I'm ashamed to say we didn't do the rice cake recipe :o( but it is on the list of To Dos

David x

Annemarie said...

What a truly lovely man Carlos sounds to be. I'm always a bit intimidated by whole beets since I never know how best to prep them, so I haven't had the pleasure of beet greens. I know that I have some beets coming in my veg box next week, so I'll have to wait and see if the tops are still on.

Anonymous said...

Susan, what another really lovely story. I adore beet greens: got that from my dear mother. There was never a year she didn't plant beets in her garden. We had them in soup, in salads, in pasta (but yours looks extra yummy), and steamed with butter. Oh, how I love beets and their greens. I nearly came to tears when I read the word Ramona at the end of your post (the blogger you mention) ... that was my dear mother's name. Not common. Miss her immensely and will be growing my own beets this year once the snow melts.


Anonymous said...

Way to go! This looks wonderful. I think it's great to help others explore this delicious leafy green that is often discarded! And you did it beautifully.

amy @

glamah16 said...

I have never had beet greens before. I just startrd ordering organic vegetable boxes and I beliebe beets eill be in ! So I know what I'm making with the greens!

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how PACKED greens are with vitamins and other good things. Plus this looks as delicious as it is good for you.

Anonymous said...

You have a convert! I tried them over the weekend & will now add them to my weekly grocery list - so rich with flavor.

Thanks, Amy

Anonymous said...

I'm a beet green virgin, but I don't see why I wouldn't try them. Have you ever made a beet green pesto? If so I would love to hear how it turned out. Great post!


Susan from Food Blogga said...

cris-Thanks so much!

anticiplate-I'm so pleased it was a success. Thanks for letting me know! :)

teddy-You're lucky, indeed!

sia-Mmmm... they would be wonderful in Indian dals. I've got to try that now.


david-Hey, life happens. Now worries. Hope your day was happy anyway. :)

annemarie-My fingers are crossed for you. :)

diane-I had no idea. It's amazing how a word or image can evoke such an emotional reaction. I can only imagine how much you miss her, as I love my mom dearly.

amy-I hope so. That was the idea. :)

coco-Ooh, I hope you get some.

julie-They are "super" foods, aren't they?

amy-Woo-hoo! That's cause for celebration!

adam-I haven't made a pesto, but it sounds like a delicious idea. Thanks for the visit.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for entering this great dish into WHB! I adore greens of all kinds and agree that they can be the best part.

Marissa said...

Who knew?

Ok I am going to cook with them instead of composting them next time ;-) YUM...I have been missing out!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

ramona-You're so welcome!

marissa-Yay! Another beet green convert. ;)

Jaime said...

what a cute story! you're lucky you have such nice people at your farmer's market - i haven't found that here in dallas. i need to eat more veggies but need to find ways to cook them so i like them... i love that you seem to eat a lot of healthy dishes :)

Jeanne said...

Sadly, I have never really liked beets, so the issue of beet greens has never really arisen. It's a pity because by the sound of things they are the best part of the beet :o) Love those green pasta bowls!

Anonymous said...

I worked at a farmer's market and most people do NOT want their I made a habit, whenever anyone said they wanted their greens, to give them the pile that had built up under the table! They were always happy, and I was always happy to find a home for them. Otherwise, they just would have been tossed.

Janice said...

Such a pleasure to meet a fellow San Diegan! I have two lovely bunches of beets in my fridge right now and know exactly what I'm going to do with the greens. Thanks for sharing!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

janice-Wonderful! I'm glad I could help. Where in San Diego are you?

chill3 said...

Wonderful recipe!
I'm new to beet greens, having just gotten a few handsful from the CSA we joined this year. They were baby beet greens from the farmers thinning the beets. So tasty! I LOVE the color of this dish!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Yay! A new CSA member and beet green lover. You make me so happy!