Friday, June 24, 2011

Don't throw away the beet greens

Most of us don't know what to do with beet greens - many of us think they are not edible. I used to be the same until one day a few years ago at the farmers market in Union Square a kindly farmer was appalled that I didn't want the tops and asked him to lop it off. There began my appreciation of beet greens. Normally I cook them by itself, but this time I decided to add the left over golden beet and purple beet from the beet salad of my previous post. It was absolutely noteworthy.

Beets and greens with garlic 
One small golden beet, peeled and finely chopped - Picture 1
One small purple beet, peeled and finely chopped
2 bunches of beet greens, cleaned, trimmed and cut into ribbons - Picture 2
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 or 3 dried red chilies, broken into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil

1. Heat a large skillet (at least 12 inches) with canola oil over medium high heat. Add the nigella seeds and dried red chilies and saute for 30 seconds. Add the minced garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. The garlic should not burn.

2. Now add the chopped beets and 1/2 teaspoon salt and saute for 7 to 8 minutes till the beets look glossy like Picture 3. Add all the chopped greens (it will be a lot, but will shrink) over the beets and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to medium. The greens will begin to wilt after about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove lid and toss around well. Add another 1/2 teaspoon salt and continue to cook for another 7 to 8 minutes till the beets are tender and the greens are cooked. Raise the heat and cook for a few more minutes till the water released from the greens is dry. Serve warm.

Yields: 4 servings

Serving suggestions:
As a side with grilled fish and a simple rice pilaf with cumin seeds
As a side with steamed rice and a curry

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