if you’re not already familiar with matt armendariz‘s work, get ready to fall head over heels in love. based in los angeles, matt is an art director, graphic designer and photographer who spent the past 17 years in the specialty food business before recently branching out into food photography. had it not been for the internet, i never would have had a chance to ‘meet’ matt. his website, mattbites, is full of incredible photography and bold washes of rich color- he even knows his way around interior design. when he’s not running his blog, taking photos are kindly sitting still for interviews with us, matt enjoys his home in LA with his partner adam pearson (a food stylist who worked his magic with these photos) and their three chihuahuas: cholula, moxie and bindi. today matt is sharing a delicious recipe for sautéed beet greens, sun dried tomatoes and pancetta served over polenta. with farmer’s markets opening everywhere this season it’s the perfect way to enjoy some healthy greens over soft, warm polenta. in addition, today marks the beginning of new added feature to the column: wine parings from tom delorme. so if you’d like a little something to go with each meal, tom will suggest the perfect match with each recipe. click here for the full recipe, or just click “read more” below- happy cooking and thanks to matt and adam for the delicious recipe and photos. [editors note: it’s such an honor to have matt on the site- i think we’re all giddy with happiness over here today]! –kristina
Sauteed Beet Greens with Sun Dried Tomatoes & Pancetta
Wine pairing: Gulfi Carjcante 2004
For as long as I can remember I’ve been a huge fan of beets. Roasted, sliced, pickled, you name it. But every time I prepared them I found myself chopping off the stalks and discarding them or adding them to my compost pile. That changed when a grower at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market told me to stop that immediately and put them to good use! As it turns out, beet greens are full of flavor and a bit sweeter than other leafy greens thanks to the high sugar content of the beet. The long, hearty stems and attached leaves have become some of my favorite greens, and when you add a bit of pancetta and serve them on top of creamy polenta, well, heaven is only right around the corner. Of course this recipe can be made completely vegetarian by omitting the pancetta — it’s truly fantastic either way.
1 pound beet greens
1 1/4 inch slice of pancetta, diced into small cubes
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 large garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup of water
1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of cider vinegar, or to taste
After removing the beets, wash the greens in cold water. Drain and repeat until all the grit and dirt is gone. Remove the long stems and chop into half-inch pieces and set aside. Tear or cut the leaves into 2-inch pieces and set aside.
In a large saucepan, cook the diced pancetta over medium heat until brown and then remove from pan. Saute the beet stems in the pancetta grease until slightly tender and then add the shallots and dried tomatoes. Cook for another 2 minutes, stir in the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Returned the cooked pancetta to the pan and then add water and scrape up any bits left in the pan. Stir in the pepper flakes, add sugar and cook until boiling. Reduce heat and add the remaining greens and cover and simmer for about 8 minutes. Splash with vinegar and serve over polenta. I’m leaving that part up to you, but I always add a generous serving of mascarpone to mine.
Why I chose this recipe:
I chose this recipe because I love honest, simple flavors and because it’s also a fantastic way to use every bit of the beet. And anything with pork and mascarpone in it, well, c’mon, I don’t have to tell you how utterly fantastic that is.
About the wine Gulfi, Carjcante 2004 (click for full review)
Gulfi is a relatively new producer of organic wines very much worth seeking out. Caricanti is a white variety native to Mount Etna and in a very small quantity in eastern Sicily. Beautiful golden straw in color. Not extremely forward or exotic on the aromatics. On the palate, this wine shows beautiful grapefruit and citrus, nice apple with some butter and almonds. Really nice minerality with great weight, balance, nice acidity and a solid, crisp finish.