Due to the warm spring we have had, our summer CSA started a week early. It was so exciting to get that first box, filled to the top with lots of green. We got lettuce, arugula, spinach, kale, a couple of zucchini, some beets with fantastically fresh greens still attached, and some curly garlic scapes. The box was topped with a carton of sweet strawberries. After a winter of root vegetables, the plethora of green is a welcome change. The best part is that everything is super fresh.
The first thing I wanted to do was cook up those beet greens. Did you know that the greens attached to the tops of beets are not only edible, but they are really delicious? They have a nice earthy taste but without the bitterness that many greens have. It’s as if they steal a little of the beet’s sweetness to balance out the deep flavor of the leaves. The stems are a lovely pink color and when they are slender, you can cook and eat them right along with the leaves. The challenge with beet greens is that they go bad pretty quickly and they often don’t make it through the supermarket gauntlet.
Make sure you wash your greens really well. They are typically covered with lots of dirt and do well with a bath in a big sinkful of water. Beet greens really only need simple treatment. This recipe is straightforward and uses delicious flavors of garlic, ginger, and green chile and stir-fries the greens and stems until tender. It makes a pretty colored dish that goes nicely with other Indian-style dishes.
Beet Greens with Ginger, Chiles, and Garlic Scapes
Adapted from World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey
3 tbls peanut or vegetable oil
1 fresh hot green chile (such as jalapeno), seeded and cut into thin strips
About 1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into slivers
4 garlic scapes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (or 3-4 cloves of garlic, cut into slivers)
1 pound beet greens, including slender stems
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash the beet greens well and pat dry. Cut the greens and stems (if using) into strips about 1/2 inch thick. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the ginger, chile, and garlic scapes (or garlic cloves) and stir fry for a minute. Add the beet greens and stir a few times. Put a lid on the pan, turn the heat down to low, and cook until the leaves are wilted. Add the salt and stir a few times. Add 4 tablespoons of water, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the greens are tender, about 30 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste and serve alongside meats or beans. Serves 4 as a side dish.