This was inspired by a Sunset Magazine recipe. I made a few changes (of course) and I think there is lots of room for variation, but the basics are unusual and yummy. After I convinced Kate and Mariah that the "lettuce" wasn't gross, they actually ate it. The raisins really helped encourage them to try.
* 1 package uncooked pennette (or penne, or whatever you've got)
* 1/2 cup raisins
* 3 tablespoons oil (not olive - something like safflower*)
* 4 cups coarsely chopped trimmed beet greens (the tops from about 3 nice sized beets)
* 4 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
* 2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
* 1 teaspoon salt (or 1/2 tsp fancy french sea salt because its really strong)
* a few grinds of black pepper
Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain. I used whole wheat penne and it was really great in this (I have used whole wheat pasta before and not liked it, but this time it really worked).
While pasta cooks, place raisins in a small bowl; cover with hot water. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain. (or let stand until you realize that it's time to add them and then drain them. Its not an exact science)
While pasta cooks and raisins soak, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add greens and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until greens are tender. Stir in pasta, raisins, almonds, salt, and black pepper; toss to combine. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, if desired.
You could also add some apple chicken sausage to meat it up, or maybe some sauteed chicken. Or, if you wanted to get fancy and serve it at room temp, you could add some chevre once it has cooled a bit. That would be yummy with the raisins and almonds.
*A NOTE ABOUT OLIVE OIL:
Ken recently found out that you should not use olive oil for sauteing. The reason? Olive oil becomes carcinogenic at high temperatures. Reason enough for me to switch to something more heat tolerant. The suggested substitute is grape seed oil, but that was super expensive at the grocer store. I went for safflower, and aside from smelling a little like popcorn when I started to heat the pan, it was not so different from what I am used to. I think I'm going to save my olive oil for salads and dipping. Seems a shame to waste it on sauteing anyway.