I didn’t really know what to expect when I lopped these greens off at the rubber band-tied stems, gave them a rough chop, and tossed them in a pan popping with garlic, shallots and olive oil. I didn’t expect that their juicy stems would bleed all over the place, staining the aromatics hot pink with every turn of the spatula. I didn’t expect the leaves to be as tender as they felt when the knife went through them, since they looked kind of ragged at first glimpse. And I certainly didn’t expect them to taste as mild and utterly un-bitter as any light, springy lettuce green might when cooked. Nor that its semi-hollow stems would soak up as much flavor, while retaining a delicate crispness against the elements. Never have I underestimated a vegetable as much as perhaps the shocking beet green.
Isn’t cooking with new toys wonderful? I bought a bunch of beets with their greens still attached at the Greenmarket on Saturday, and chose one with the freshest-looking leaves. It’s like a two-for-one purchase, for $2.75 a pop. I roasted those beets up right away. These went into salads or were eaten just straight throughout the week. The beet greens, however, turned out to be prize jewel of this bunch. Closely related to Swiss chard, they’re even better than this mild, perfect stir-fry green in my opinion because of their stems. Don’t chuck them, whatever you do. Unlike thick and fibrous stems that aggravate your sautéeing time because they generally need to cook longer than the delicate leaves, the beet greens’ stems are fine and delicate to begin with. But they’re also really, really red. So red that they hold the same antioxidant-rich nutrients as those things on the other end of the plant do — what were they called? Oh right, beets.
Anyway. There’s nothing I love more than a tender green sautéed in garlic and olive oil. I hope there is never a shortage of new ones to try this out with. So here’s what I did with these, once I gave them a good taste: It was late for brunch, a lazy Sunday morning. I had a couple potatoes boiling on the opposite burner. An egg in the fridge. Put together, and spiced boldly with a small dash of curry powder, this made for an altogether uniquely satisfying brunch. I hope you like it as much as I did. Otherwise, I’d sound like a pretty big fool for food right now, wouldn’t I?
for more egg poaching tips, check out Deb’s little tutorial
Curried Beet Greens Brunch Platter
(makes 2 servings)
1 bunch beet greens, roughly chopped
about 4 baby red potatoes, boiled and sliced
2 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
Heat the shallots and garlic with the oil under medium-low heat until tender, stirring occasionally, about 2-3 minutes. Add the beet greens and cook another minute. Add the sliced potatoes and stir. Season with the curry powder and salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water with the vinegar to boil. Reduce heat to low so that the water is very barely boiling, in infrequent bubbles. Crack one egg into a small bowl. Slowly slide the egg into the water. Repeat process with the other egg. Cover and cook for about 2 minutes.
Transfer the beet green and potato mixture to to two plates. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place ceremoniously on top of each plate. Serve immediately.
(for 2 servings)
1 bunch beet greens (at $2.75 bunch with the beets attached… so half that?): $1.38
4 baby red potatoes (at $1.50/lb): $1.50
2 shallots: $0.25
2 eggs: $0.50
2 garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon curry powder, salt, pepper, olive oil: $0.40
Two brownie points: This is sort of a perfect meal. You have your veggies, you have your starch; you have your little bit of protein (egg), and your little bit of fat (egg yolk, olive oil). Beet greens may be similar in taste to chard, but it kicks the latter leafy greens in the stem in terms of nutritional content. I’d try to illustrate what those deep hues exactly tell you, but it’s probably simpler to just look at the chart here and the list here.
Seven maple leaves: I made good use of the Greenmarket last Saturday. My entire food purchases for the week, pretty much. Anyway, it took care of basically everything for this dish, except for little pinches of seasoning, the olive oil and the garlic.