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Friday, December 4, 2009

Beet Greens with Walnuts and Cranberries

GLUTEN-FREE | GRAIN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE

The beets are beautiful at the farmer’s market this time of year. Buy bunches that have fresh green leaves in good condition and eat the whole plant.

Grated raw into salads, golden beet roots add a brilliant, bright yellow color. For an easy appetizer or salad course, grate raw golden beets, alone or along with carrots and/or radishes, and toss them with chopped fresh parsley and your favorite vinaigrette. (This is probably what I use my food processor for most often.)

Or chop beet roots into wedges (scrub the peel and leave it intact), toss them with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, and roast them until they are caramelized and golden brown. Serve roasted beet wedges as a side dish, add them to salads, or stir them into brown rice risottos.

Save the greens for this simple sauté, a colorful and festive side dish or main course. Because raw greens wilt down to a fraction of their original volume, at my table, 1 bunch of greens serves 1 person as a main course, or 2 to 3 people as a side dish. Multiply the recipe below accordingly.

1 bunch golden beet greens
1 tbsp cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, or more, thinly sliced, minced or grated
Sea salt
Ground peppercorn
1 lemon
½ cup raw walnuts (or toasted at home slowly over low heat)
¼ cup dried unsweetened cranberries
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese (optional)

Remove the stems from the leaves. Finely chop the stems and set aside. Chop the leaves into strips 1 centimeter to 1 inch thick and set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Increase heat to medium, add the chopped stems and a pinch each of sea salt and pepper. Sauté until the stems are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped beet leaves and cook until wilted and tender, tossing occasionally, about 5 more minutes.

Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the greens to taste (about half a lemon), catching any seeds. Toss to combine, taste for seasoning, and add more lemon, sea salt or peppercorn if needed. Transfer to a serving plate.

Scatter the walnuts, cranberries and blue cheese over the greens. Serve immediately.

* Tailor this recipe to meet your needs: If you don’t have beet greens or prefer something else, substitute spinach, chard, kale, turnip greens, bok choi, etc. Aged balsamic vinegar can be substituted for the lemon juice. Instead of walnuts, try pecans, pistachios or almonds. Cherries or golden raisins can be substituted for the cranberries. Goat cheese would be a good alternative to blue cheese.

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