Monday, July 5, 2010

Beet Greens with Sweet Onions and Feta Cheese

We belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). If you aren't familiar with a CSA, you pay for a share (full or half) to a local farmer before the season starts. Then you get a share of whatever the farm produces. I think it is one of the greatest things we have ever done. For one, I love beets. Two, my boys eat a variety of vegetables that I probably would not buy at the store, because I had never had them, like kohlrabi for example.  Three, I love knowing WHERE and HOW our food was grown and WHEN it was picked, usually the morning of distribution day. 

Anyway, back to my love of beets. When we first got beets in the CSA box, I was a little nervous. Way back, when it was just me and Ray, we tried fresh beets from a store.  I roasted them and they had this taste that neither Ray nor I liked. Woodsy and gross. They were huge and who knows how long they had been there. Our farmers knew we were new to a CSA, so they gave us advice on how to prepare certain veggies and what we could use. When they told us we could eat the greens as well as the beet root, I was a little surprised. I had never heard of that. I was still leery of the beet itself, so I started looking for a recipe to use the greens.  Later, I will share a recipe for the beet itself that is SO good! Thus began our love of beets.

I've made this a number of times. Ray and I prefer it with chard or beet greens. You can also use kale, escarole, mustard greens or collards. C even liked it, although he wouldn't admit it. As always, I put a portion of everything on their plates, with the family rule that you at least try one bite of everything on your plate. C took one bite, then kept going back until it was gone. 

This recipe is quite easy to make. The hardest part is washing and stemming the greens. If you use young, tender greens you won't need to stem the greens. With beet greens, if the beets are big enough to pull from the ground, you need to stem the greens. To stem, hold the stem with one hand and using your pointer and thumb of the other hand, slide up the stem of the green. Once you do it, you'll see what I mean. You can do this part while caramelizing the onions. It is more chopping and sautéing than anything. 

You could serve this over short pasta, but we like it by itself, sometimes with a hunk of crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Beet Greens with Sweet Onions and Feta Cheese
Adapted from The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups sliced sweet onion, such a Vidalia, I used one large
3 larges bunches fresh beet greens, stemmed if necessary and coarsely chopped (~12 cups)
salt, to taste
feta cheese, crumbled, up to 1 cup
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. After about a minute, add the onions and sauté over high heat for about five minutes. Reduce heat to medium, cover the pan and let the onions cook until very tender, about 10 more minutes.

Add the beet greens in batches, sprinkling lightly with salt after each addition and turning them with tongs, bringing up the wilted ones from the bottom to the top of the pile.

When all the greens have wilted, stir in the cheese and cook for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle generously with black pepper. 

Serve hot or warm.