Saturday, June 23, 2012

Vegansaurus Challenge

Vegansaurus, although I am late to the game I accept your challenge.

I tried beet greens for the first time! I was never a fan of beets when growing up (but then again, who is?). My mom always provided me with the freshest fruits and vegetables, but somehow she was partial to canned beets. Maybe in the same twisted sense that I have a weak spot for canned cranberry sauce.

Anyway, never having consumed fresh beets meant no beet greens. What a deprived childhood I had.

At my local farmers' market in Upper Haight, fresh beets caught my eye. I searched through the pile for ones with the prettiest, leafiest greens. I'm sure the cashier was confused as to why I was focusing on the greens rather than the beets themselves, but then again there's weirder things Haight Street has seen.

I followed instructions I found online: wash the greens and snap off the stems. Blanch, rinse, and chop. Peel and quarter the beets, roast in the oven for a while.

Figuring beet greens were similar to kale or chard, I decided to pair them with lentils for a fresh salad.

Mmm. Fresh roasted beets and leafy greens, you are my new favorite. And this salad too, it comes together quickly and easily once everything is prepped.

Beet Greens, Lentil, and Beet Salad
1 bunch fresh beets, greens attached
1 cup green lentils

3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bring large pot of water to boil for blanching.
Separate leafy tops from beets, discard stem. Rinse beets and greens thoroughly.
Trim and stem beets, then peel and quarter them. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with one or two tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. If baking on aluminum foil, place another sheet over it to cover, wrap closed. Bake for 30-35 minutes, occasionally turning beets if on baking sheet.

Meanwhile, place the greens in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain in colander and immediately rinse thoroughly with cold water. Alternately, you could dump into a bowl with ice water once drained to stop the cooking. Once cooled, chop the greens into bite-sized pieces.

Rinse and pick through lentils, add to 3 cups of water in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Once the lentils and beets are finished, combine everything in a bowl. Drizzle remaining olive oil, dress with balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Make any additions you feel necessary; perhaps a squeeze of lemon or a dash of red chili flakes.

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