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Beet Greens Pesto With Pasta Recipe for Meatless Monday

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Call us culinary hoarders, but every time we throw out perfectly good beet greens, the cook inside us dies a little. But there are only so many times you can sauté them with garlic, lemon, and olive oil. And although we love the way that Ilan Hall over at the Gorbals pickles the stems, using them as a nice acidic pick-up to his gutsy dude food (he does a similar treatment for fennel fronds), there's too much delayed gratification for a quick Monday night meal.

So after our recent shopping trip, we Tweeted out to see what folks were doing with these great greens, which are packed with dietary fiber and vitamins A, C, and E. Our friend Simon Majumdar from "The Next Iron Chef" suggested we make a pesto out of them, so we riffed off his idea, tweaking the recipe a bit to add some herbaceousness via rosemary and sea salt marcona almonds. You can smear the pesto on a nice crusty piece of bread, or even use it instead of sauce on a pizza. We decided to go with pasta, since we are admittedly obsessed with all things noodle.

This recipe completely debunks the old saying "waste not, want not." It's only been a few hours and we're totally craving more.

Here's how it's done.

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Beet greens pesto

4 cups beet greens
1 cup Trader Joe's rosemary and sea salt marcona almonds
1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese
3/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped and peeled
juice of 1/2 lemon
(makes about 1 and 1/4 cups pesto)

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Wash beet greens thoroughly. Dry and de-vein. Put in a food processor with of all the other remaining ingredients. Process until smooth, gradually streaming in more olive oil if the mixture seems a bit dry. Set aside.

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For the pasta

1/2 pound spaghettini or angel hair pasta
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, julienned
1 tablespoon olive oil
(serves 4)

Cook up pasta, ideally a spaghettini or angel hair, in salted water. Right before being cooked to al dente, take it off the heat. But wait! Before you strain the pasta and get rid of your pasta water, add 1/2 cup of that precious H2O to a sauté pan where you've had 15 sun dried tomatoes and some olive oil on low. Add in 1/2 cup of your beet greens pesto. Drain noodles, then add them to the sauté pan, too. Now toss with a pair of metal tongs, mixing it all together. The slightly under-done noodles will finish cooking there in the pan with the sauce.

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Add salt and pepper to taste, then plate and top with another sprinking of Parm. Enjoy!

(Note: You can store the remaining pesto in a Mason jar in the fridge for at least a week. Just make sure to top it off with olive oil to prevent the greens from oxidizing.)