I love it how at farm stands and farmers' markets, you get the whole vegetable. No one's stolen the squash seeds or the beet greens, and the carrot tops are still intact.
This week, after a trip to Crow Farm in Sandwich (which will be selling vegetables until Christmas, mind you), I made an all-beet salad. It was my version of top to tail cooking, if you will, minus the animal and the endless parade of parts.
It was easy enough to put together—I simply peeled and sliced thin the beets, chopped up the greens, and threw the whole lot into a pan hot with oil and garlic. The leaves began to wilt, the beets to soften, and at last I blew out the flame and declared them tender. With a bit of chevre on top, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, I had a hearty fall salad.
It looked like Christmas with the colors—deep, maroon beets mixed with holly-hued greens and a sprinkling of white—just the thing to whip up for a holiday party or cold weather lunch. Even once the beet greens are gone, there'll still be spinach to gather, which with its deep forest green could easily step in.
But something about using the whole beet—every last bit of it, minus the well-intentioned skin—is so satisfying that I think I wouldn't dare. Usually I wait too long on the greens, letting them sit idle in the crisper until they are wilted beyond repair. It seems fitting that instead they leave together with the beets, hand in hand without hesitation for the next.
Try the salad if you can—before the holidays set in and the bustle becomes too much—because I'm sure once you do you'll decide you want it on the table. I'm willing to bet you like it so much, in fact, that you'll want to practice at least once or twice, to get it perfect just in time. Until then, if you need any help with the leftovers—well, you know I'm always here.
WARM BEET SALAD
Wash and cut the greens from 5 small beets. Dry and chop greens roughly. Boil beets for 10 to 20 minutes, or until they are slightly tender and you can slip the skins from them easily. Remove skins and slice into thin, 1/2-inch pieces. In a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat up 2 tablespoons oil. Drop in 1 clove garlic, minced, and cook 30 seconds. Add beets and greens and stir well. Let cook, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until greens are wilted but have not lost their color. Transfer into a serving dish, season with salt and pepper to taste, and top with 1 to 2 ounces chevre. Serve warm as a light main course or side salad.