The beet greens add a level of complexity to this cooked pesto, as well as deepening the beetiness of the sauce. If you want to add some basil, or even dill, go ahead. Dill has an affinity for beets. Golden or chiogga beets will produce an interesting color palate.
1 small bunch beets with their greens
5 T vegetable oil, divided, plus extra if needed
1 c chopped onion
1 chile pepper, stemmed, (seeded), and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 c toasted walnuts
chopped fresh herb, optional
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Separate beets from greens. Steam or roast beets until tender. Let cool, then slip skins off, or not, and coarsely chop.
2. Meanwhile, chop leaves, discarding the stem if you like. Heat 2 T oil in a skillet and sauté onion and chile pepper until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant. Add chopped beet greens, stirring to combine. Sauté, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool some.
3. Transfer to a food processor along with the chopped beets, walnuts, herb, if using, and remaining 3 T of oil. Process until puréed, adding more olive oil, if necessary.
4. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator or freeze. To store, put a layer of olive oil over the surface before covering.