Beetroot leaf and basil pesto pasta

My grandma grew most of the fruit and vegetables she needed and she always used to say “shame to waste it”. If it didn’t end up on the plate, in a soup or stock then the scraps were turned into compost and used to fertilise her next crop. Unfortunately I have no garden nor compost pile, so I do my best to use as much of produce I buy so I’m not throwing money in the bin.

I bought a bunch of beautiful beetroot to use in a recipe later this week (involving roasted beetroot, salmon, sumac and whipped feta – I’m recreating a dish I ate out so if it works I’ll let you know!) The leaves were too good to throw away so I turned them into this delicious pesto. It’s quick to make and will serve two people. The trick with pesto is to taste and season accordingly, so use this recipe as a guide to create a pesto to your taste.


  • Beetroot leaves and stems
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 stalks of basil leaves (about a small handful of leaves)
  • 1 tbs pine nuts
  • 1 tbs parmesan
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper


  1. Blanch the beetroot leaves and garlic clove in boiling water for a minute or two until the leaves are wilted. Drain and refresh under cool water.
  2. Finely dice the beetroot stems.
  3. Place the cooled beetroot leaves, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and a good slug of olive oil with a generous pinch of salt and blitz in a food processor.
  4. Cook your pasta per packet directions and while the pasta is draining reserve a little of the cooking liquid.
  5. Cook the beetroot stems in some oil in the same pot over a high heat for a minute or two until softened.
  6. Add the pasta and pesto, with a little of the cooking water so you create a sauce for your hot pasta to soak up.
  7. Serve with a bit of extra parmesan and cracked pepper.

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