Warm Beet Greens with Whipped Feta
Many people discard the beet stems when preparing beets or beet greens, but the stems can be quite tasty. Boil them separately from the greens, then dress them with garlic, fruity olive oil and lemon juice. Serve as a first course alongside the cooked greens and some garlicky whipped feta seasoned with mint. Pass warm pita bread and a bowl of Kalamata olives. Adapted from Eating Local.
- 5 to 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- Kosher or sea salt
- 1 lemon
- 1 pound of beet greens (from about 3 bunches of beets)
- 1/2 pound Greek, French, Bulgarian, or Israeli feta
- 1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- Pinch hot red pepper flakes or coarsely ground red pepper, such as Aleppo or Maraş pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried mint or 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh mint
Separate the beet leaves from the stems. Cut the stems into 1-inch lengths.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the beet greens and boil until tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer them with tongs to a sieve or colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain and squeeze dry. Chop coarsely.
Add the beet stems to the boiling water and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again and pat dry on paper towels.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over moderate heat. Add 1 tablespoon garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beet greens, season with salt, and cook, stirring, until hot throughout. Transfer to a bowl. Add lemon juice to taste and let cool until warm.
In the same skillet, heat another 2 tablespoons olive oil over moderate heat. Add 1 tablespoon garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beet stems, season with salt, and cook, stirring, until hot throughout. Transfer to a bowl. Add lemon juice to taste and let cool until warm.
Make the Whipped Feta: Put the feta in a small food processor with the 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic. Add the hot pepper flakes, the mint, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Puree until smooth, adding up to 1 tablespoon more oil if necessary to achieve a smooth consistency.
Arrange the beet greens on one end of a serving platter. Put the beet stems on the other end and the whipped feta in the middle. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6