Pasta comes in so many shapes and sizes, from monstrous, long tubes to the tiniest little dots. Puntine (pronounced poon-TEEN-eh) means “little points,” and that’s what these are. It’s a kind of pasta that’s perfect for soups and dishes like the one I’m offering here today.
This recipe starts off as sort of a pilaf, but ends as a creamy vegetable melange. The addition of beet greens gives it a great flavor and texture, and makes it a healthful dish with plenty of vitamin C and antioxidants.
If you can’t find puntine, a good substitute is orzo. They’re almost the same, except that orzo is a little bigger.
Puntine with Beet Greens
Makes 4 servings.
1 tablespoon olive oil ½ tablespoon unsalted butter 2 large garlic cloves, minced 1 tablespoon paprika
½ cup puntine or orzo 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
3 cups chopped beet greens
In a medium pan, heat the oil and butter until the butter is melted. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.Sprinkle in the paprika. Add the puntine and toss so that all the pasta is coated. Toast the puntine for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low, cover, and let it cook until the broth has been absorbed and the puntine is tender. If the broth is fully absorbed but the pasta isn’t cooked, add a little more water (about ¼ cup) and let it continued cooking until tender.
Add the beet greens and stir them in.Add another ¼ cup water and cover. Let it continue cooking until greens are tender, about 5 minutes. If the puntine starts to stick to the pan at any point, add a little water and stir. Grind in some pepper. If you feel that it needs salt, add some to your taste. Serve.
This recipe is another example of just how good leftovers can be. You can transform the things you have in your refrigerator and pantry, the little bits and pieces that remained behind, into something new and interesting.
I had purchased beets from the farmers’ market and wanted to do something different with the leaves than the usual saute with olive oil and garlic. As much as I like that particular dish, I think I’ve O.D.d on it. So I started thinking about other ways of using them.
I also happened to have leftover roasted eggplant slices and some millet in the pantry. After some thought I came up with this recipe: beet green rolls stuffed with millet and eggplant. Millet is the perfect grain for stuffing because it’s sticky and you won’t have little individual grains skittering across your plate. It will hold everything together. It’s also gluten free, so those of you with (or who have loved ones with) Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, this is a great recipe for you. Further, beet greens are loaded with iron, vitamin C, beta carotene, and antioxidants.
Since I will assume that you don’t just happen to have roasted eggplant slices already in the fridge, or perhaps not even millet in your pantry (even if you do, I doubt you’d have both at the same time), I’ve written this recipe so that you can start from scratch. Btu it’s a very easy recipe—you can even make the eggplant a few days in advance so that you can just jump right into this recipe.
This is the perfect autumn/winter dish—hearty, delicious, and great to bring to gatherings. You can serve it as an appetizer, a main course, or side dish. Enjoy!
Beet Green Rolls Stuffed with Millet and Eggplant
½ cup olive oil, plus extra 1 medium Italian eggplant ¾ cup millet Greens from 1 bunch beets 1 tablespoon grated parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. If you’re using foil, grease it with some of the olive oil.
Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch-thick slices lengthwise and lay them on the baking sheet (use more than one baking sheet if you have to). Set aside 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and use the rest to brush both sides of the eggplant slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning over once, until browned on both sides, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Chop up the eggplant finely and measure out 2 cups. Reserve the rest for another recipe.Meanwhile, place the millet in a small saucepan with 1½ cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 10 minutes.If the water hasn’t been all absorbed, drain the millet in a mesh strainer. If it needs to cook some more, you can add a little more water and continue simmering.Transfer the millet to a bowl. Add the eggplant, parmesan, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper; mix well.Place the beet greens in a large bowl of water and wash the greens in several changes of water.
Pick out the largest, nicest leaves (you’ll need about 14) and place them on a kitchen towel to dry.Cut off the stems of the leaves. You may need to cut out a little bit of the ribs a the bottom if you find the leaves difficult to roll. Place 1/4 cup of the filling—less, if the leaf is smaller–at the base of a leaf and roll the leaf up. (It’s okay if the leaf tears a bit or the rib pokes through—you’re not making rolls that people will eat with their hand. These are fork rolls!)
Place it on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining leaves. Pack the rolls close together. Gently brush olive oil over them.Cover tightly with foil. Bake 15 minutes. Transfer them to a serving platter, sprinkle more parmesan over the top, then drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil.Serve hot or at room temperature.
I get into these moods when I crave to make a pot of chili. The thing about chili is that there’s no way to make just a little. Just by its very nature, chili is a big-pot deal. I usually put a lot of it in the freezer and it really comes in handy to have.
This week, though, I did something a little different. I picked up a bunch of beets at the Greenmarket and it had some beautiful leaves attached. Normally, I would sauté the greens in garlic and olive oil (my favorite and go-to way to cook greens), but I wanted to do something different with those, too.
So, I decided to do a casserole, or what Italians call a timbale—a dish that is formed in some sort of mold shape. I used the beet leaves to wrap the chili in a small casserole dish (a 40-year-old cornflower Corningware!), added some cheese, and voilà.
My chili has tempeh in it for extra protein and texture. Tempeh adds a meatiness to chili that makes it appealing to meat-lovers as well. You can either dice, chop, or crumble it, according to your preference. Crumbling it gives it a chopped-meat texture, but I prefer a small dice. It’s important to drain the chili before putting it into the casserole; otherwise, there will be too much liquid. Also, I used homemade corn stock (which I also keep in the freezer), which gave it a fabulous flavor, but any vegetable stock will do.
Tempeh Chili Casserole with Beet Greens
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
2 teaspoons olive oil
8 oz. tempeh, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 medium red pepper, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 small jalapeno, minced
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 (15-oz) can plum tomatoes, chopped
2 cups cooked kidney beans
1 cup corn (preferably organic)
1 cup broth
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Greens from one bunch beets
Make the chili. Heat the oil in a larger pot. Add the tempeh and sauté, stirring often, until browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.Add the onions and a pinch of salt and sauté until soft and translucent (if the pot is completely dry, add a bit more oil). Add the garlic and sauté a minute.
Make a space in the pot and add the tomato paste. Begin stirring it in until it’s incorporated into the onions.
Add the red, green, and jalapeno peppers and carrots and continue sautéing until soft.
Stir in the tempeh, chili powder, and cumin and cook another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, and broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, about 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cilantro.
Take about 3 cups and set aside. Store the rest in the refrigerator or freezer.
Place the 3 cups chili in a strainer set over a bowl and let drain for at least half an hour. Stir occasionally.
Meanwhile, place the beet greens in a large bowl filled with cold water. Swish them around then let sit for 15 minutes. Scoop the leaves out and transfer to another bowl or a clean towel. Pour out the water and rinse out the bowl. Place the leaves back in and fill with water again and let sit another 15 minutes. Scoop them out and lay out on a clean cloth or paper towels. Pat them dry. Pick out the largest ones.
Brush the inside of a 1- or 1½-quart casserole dish with oil. Line it with beet greens so that the greens hang out over the edges. Fill with drained chili. You may have to hold the leaves in place with one hand while you scoop with the other.
Cover the top with cheese.
With your fingertips, oil the leaves. This is important to do because otherwise the leaves will dry out and get crispy in the oven. Fold the leaves over to cover the top. If necessary, lay additional leaves across the top of the cheese (make sure those are oiled as well). If the leaves don’t want to stay down, insert toothpicks where needed.
Cover the top with lid or aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes or until liquid had dried up. Remove toothpicks.
Serve in casserole dish and scoop out, or invert onto a platter.