Beet your greens
The title of this blog doesn’t really make sense, but I was really trying to stay away from writing, “can’t be beet.” Damn, I did it anyway.
I’m convinced that one day an eager grad student will earn his PhD by telling everyone that beets are one of the healthiest things we can eat. I think that’s true of most things that grow that are shockingly different than other plants – things with great colour, strong flavour, or weird consistency… I have similar mostly unjustified suspicions about eggplant and avocado.
What I had never considered was that beets could give a one-two punch of nutrition. The roots are one thing, but the greens that usually end up in my compost might offer some goodness too (click here for details). And lately, I’m all about making my family eat stuff that I would normally have thrown out. Happy Earth Day! With all of this in mind, I undangerously boiled up some beetroot as a side the other day, and put away the greens for safekeeping.
Because I was trying to kiss up to my husband who was just about to send me to Washington DC with a friend for a girls’ weekend (fantastic – stay tuned for some culinary inspirations from the trip like turtle soup) I decided to prepare the greens in two different ways, even though doing so was a bit extravagant for a weeknight where he would be the only one eating them and would also probably complain that they were too healthy.
I started with an appetizer that was really fantastic, based on the one here, although I made a few alterations (my ingredients listed below). I may have changed one or two things about their recipe, but damn, can those kids ever kick my ass around the block with their food photography. It’s worth checking out.
Beet green and goat cheese crostini
- 1 whole wheat baguette, thinly sliced on diagonal, toasted on baking sheet in oven at 400 for 5mins
- 3 medium-sized beets
- 1 mini log of soft goat cheese
- 1 lemon, very thinly sliced, including rind
- Salt & pepper
Directions: 1. Wash and peel beet roots with a peeler. I had leftovers from the previous night that I had boiled, but the chefs who inspired this one roasted theirs in the oven, which probably added even more sweetness. Slice.
2. Blanche the beet greens (bring water to a boil and drop the greens in for a short time), rinse to cool, and then chop
3. Spread the toasts with goat cheese, add lemon, beetroot, and greens. Salt and pepper to taste
Results and rating: This recipe was very delicious. Don’t leave out the lemon even though it may scare you to eat the rind (my husband obviously asked me whether or not it would kill him to eat it because my cooking keeps him on his toes). The bitter/sour/sweet combination in this dish was excellent. A great spring appy. 4 yums
And on to the main course…
Mushroom and Beet Green Penne
(Based on recipe found here)
- 4 handfuls of penne or other pasta. Choose whole grain, your colon will thank you for it
- 2 pints of mushrooms, chopped. Choose some sort of brown ones – good cancer fighters
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1tbsp fresh thyme (our stupid grocery store didn’t have fresh, so I used 1tsp dried)
- Good bunch of blanched beet greens, chopped
- Healthy handful of grated parmesan cheese
- Good glug of olive oil
Directions: 1. Boil a pot of water and prepare pasta as per package instructions, or to your taste.
2. Heat olive oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onions and garlic and sautee until liquid has been released from mushrooms. Add beet greens to pan when pasta is nearly ready, just to warm them.
3. Drain pasta and toss with mushrooms and their pan friends, adding thyme, parmesan, and a few good glugs of raw olive oil. Enjoy!
Results and rating: A very healthy and simple vegetarian main course to prepare. Didn’t knock my socks off, but could be a good reliable weekday entrée. 3 yums
Interesting fact: “Beeturia” is a harmless condition present in 10-15% of the population where eating beets makes your pee pink or red. Please remember what you had for dinner before calling 911.