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Eat your greens

July 7, 2009 - Kathie Evanoff
I have been talking for weeks about the benefit of eating greens, particularly since my little greenhouse garden was such a success this spring.

Not only did I get fresh and lettuce and spinach well ahead of my outdoor garden, but the one row of beets I planted provided enough greens and deep, red globes to keep me in fresh greens for weeks to come. My southern friends laugh at my excitement. “We don’t throw away any greens we can get our hands on,” Florida gardener friend said in an e-mail. I admit that I am a novice when it comes to eating beet greens. Although I’ve grown beets in my garden for many years, I’ve only used the root part and tossed the greens on the compost heap. That isn’t likely to happen again now that I’ve gotten a taste of them.

My husband, who does most of the cooking in our house since he retired, finds ways to put them in my food. It is no secret in this blog that he is not a fan of vegetables, but when he cuts the greens in a slight chiffonade (long, thin spaghetti-like strips) and puts them in soups, he eats them too. They cook down so small that they look like snippets of parsley or chives so he doesn’t have to spend time plucking them out of his broth. I’m very happy that he eats them too.

But last week, I needed a way to use up a rather large bundle of beet tops that I brought in from the garden. So he diligently looked online for a recipe and then commenced to modify it to suit himself. Here’s what he came up with:

While boiling whole-wheat penne pasta in a large pot, he sauteed chopped onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil; Tossed in several handfuls of chopped beet tops (any type of green will work, including kale and spinach); Added a handful of slivered almonds; Put the cooked pasta in the pan with a ladle (or less) of the pasta water to keep it moist and help wilt the greens; Tossed in a handful of crumbled Feta cheese and mixed the dish just enough to soften the cheese but not melt it. Pour it all on your plate and dig in.

This recipe can be modified in numerous ways. You can add sliced carrots and fresh cut green beans to the sautee pan. Toss in some diced tomatoes or leave out the almonds and Feta cheese and add pineapple chunks,peanuts and teriyaki sauce. With a pasta stir-fry, there is no limit to what your imagination can come up with, not to mention your taste buds.

Right now, for me, I’m on a quest to use up a plethora of beet greens. Any ideas?

In the meantime, I snagged a new (for me) garden book. I was out of town on my birthday, so although he wished me a long-distance happy day, he recently gifted me with a book based on the PBS Victory Garden television show by its host, Michael Weishan. I have a few of Weishan’s books on my wish list, but this is the first one I’ve gotten, so I consider this a good score. This book talks a lot about garden design and I’m intrigued with its photos and descriptions of gardens around the globe.


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