One of the things I love about growing beets is that you get a lot of value for the space: you eat the roots, you eat the greens. Better yet, even though beets need some space to grow (so the root can get bigger), you can plant them thicker from seed and thin them when the greens are big enough to eat.
The reddish leaves near the back of the planter are my beets.
Beets are related to chard and the greens are similar to swiss chard, so you can cook them in the same way and the same recipes. The easiest way is to sauté them. I like to do them in olive oil and garlic, then when they’re cooked, add a bit of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, then serve. Delicious!
Now that summer’s in full swing, I’m suddenly faced with having to use what I have, quickly. Unlike winter’s cabbages, which are perfectly happy if you ignore them for days or weeks, summer greens are best when just picked. So when the box from Plan B arrives with a ton of lettuce and salad mix, that means a few days solid of salads. (Not that I’m complaining. The latest batch of salad mix has some yummy spicy mustard greens mixed in.)
And strawberries? Better eat those within 5 minutes of picking, if you can.
I just made a lovely mostly local salad: greens, some green onions, *ahem* avocado, and halloumi, red peppers and strawberries that I picked up at the market this morning. I made a dressing suggested by a besthealthmag.ca reader (in the comments): just sprinkle on some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup, and toss. And with that, I don’t think I’ll make a “proper” salad dressing for a long time – it’s super easy and delicious.
I also accidentally made these little fried green things. Their official name is “subrich”, which is Piedmontese for “how to fatten up your grandchildren”. I say accidentally because I was looking for something to make that included greens and eggs – I picked up duck eggs at the market today too – and was already halfway through the recipe before I realized how fried they are. Not that they don’t taste good, but I wouldn’t eat the whole batch by yourself. I used a mixture of beet greens and spinach, and some basil, parsley, thyme and chives from the backyard planters.
And speaking of beet greens, pickling beets has suddenly moved to my to-do list. The beets I planted in the community garden are big now and I’m going to have to do something with them soon. I got my mother’s basic pickled beet recipe and I guess I’ll have to freeze some of the greens. I also picked a few handfuls of peas and a couple of carrots today, but somehow they didn’t make it home…
I’ve gotten back into pasta again after discovering the yummy local stuff sold at the Green Barn Market – I buy the rotini, divide it into three zip-locs and throw it in the freezer for when I want a quick meal. But instead of doing anything fancy, I’ve been throwing together one-pot what’s-in-the-fridge meals. It’s quick and easy and all you really want in the summer.
Boiling isn’t my favourite way to cook vegetables because you lose nutrients in the water, but it’s worth the sacrifice for how easy this is.
Basically, decide on your ingredients and figure out how long each will take to cook, boil a pot of water and add ingredients from longest cooking time to shortest. Tonight, my dish consisted of (in cooking order):
• asparagus stems (Plan B)
• asparagus tips (they cook faster)
• pasta (Green Barn)
• frozen edamame (not local)
• beet greens (stems first, then leaves)*
• green onions (Plan B)
Once everything’s cooked, drain it and then mix in some sauce-like ingredients: pesto if you have it, or tomato sauce, or tonight I did a combo of cream, chevre (local, from Nancy’s Cheese), lemon juice and pepper. I topped the dish with pine nuts (also not local) and dinner was done in 10 minutes! Take that, Kraft Dinner.
* I have a ton of beets growing in the community garden – I went a little crazy planting them. I ate a couple of harvests of baby beet greens when I first thinned them, and while I was watering tonight I pulled out another beet to see how big they were getting. It was about the size of a ping-pong ball and I washed it and sliced it and ate it raw, then used the stems and leaves for dinner.