New Ingredient: Beet Greens

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If you’ve ever bought beets, you’ve probably noticed that they’re often sold with their leafy tops attached. More often than not, these leafy heads get tossed away, but don’t let them wilt in the compost bin!

Beet greens are 100% edible. They can easily be substituted for another dark, leafy green, like rainbow chard or spinach, but they have their own distinct flavor. They shockingly taste a bit like beets!
The first time I discovered beet greens could be eaten, I was addicted! The hearty flavor of dark greens, paired with a subtle sweetness in the stems – sautéed in a little olive oil and garlic, it’s a simple delight that showcases the beauty of using kitchen scraps.
This humble green is also extremely versatile; you can:

  • quickly sauté in olive oil & garlic
  • blanch & add to eggs or a vegetable hash
  • chop and stir fry in a wok with mushrooms
  • add to borscht (duh), minestrone, or vegetable soups
  • toss with grains to up your vegetable intake

There are also recipes for beet green, kale, & cauliflower salad, simply sautéed with their roots, or even in a beautiful mushroom frittata!

What you do with beet greens is really up to you! Just make sure they don’t end up in the compost 😉

Clear the fridge & freezer with a veggie sauté

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Sometimes it’s best to go back to what’s basic.

I know there are so many things you can add to make things taste better. Fish sauce. Bacon. Cheese. Miso Paste. Balsamic Vinegar. The list goes on.

But sometimes, when your mouth’s on fire from the crazy thai food you had earlier, or your tongue is crying for mercy after a big bag of salty popcorn, it’s nice to give yourself a break from all those flavor enhancers. I’m not saying they’re bad, no, I love adding little things to take a dish all the way. However, sometimes it’s best to remember what the vegetable taste like in itself.

So for today, I have a lightly sauteed vegetable medley. Wilted just until tender, seasoned with only salt and freshly ground black pepper, this sauté is great to enjoy the vegetable’s sweetness, earthiness, grassiness. Andbest of all, it’s endlessly customizable! I pretty much emptied out my old vegetables, the leftover can of olives from last night’s Tagine, and the little bags of frozen peas/corn sitting at the bottom of my freezer, so feel free to add whatever you’d like. Have some broccoli florets? Throw ’em in! Roasted red bell peppers? Go for it! Leftover garbanzo beans? Yes!

This sauté is also entirely vegetarian AND vegan! It turns out that peas actually contain a decent amount (8g/cup) amount of protein in them, so you’ll get a bit of a protein kick, but to make this a more substantial meal feel free to add in any beans. Image

Vegetable Sauté

  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup black olives, pitted and chopped into quarters
  • 1 sliced bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
  • pinch salt & pepper, to taste

Add olive oil or any vegetable oil to a skillet on medium heat. Add the thinly sliced bell pepper for about 1 minute (until slightly sweated), then add the frozen corn and peas for another minute. Next, add the sliced olives, spinach, and a pinch each salt and pepper. Stir for about 1 minute until spinach is wilted, taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve as a side dish, like a salad, or add beans, meat, or a grain to make it a meal. Enjoy!

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The forgotten vegetable

Cabbage.

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Children cringe; memories of warm coleslaw, briny sauerkraut, and diet soup quickly turn this vegetable boring.

However, cabbage is one of my favorite vegetables. While lately, other cruciferous vegetables, (brussels sprouts and cauliflower, anyone?) have been revived, lonesome cabbage still sits there, just waiting to be a star.

There are a few tricks with cabbage to make it more, palatable, though. First, you never want to overcook it. As with all crucifers, the sulfurous, yucky smell will release as the vegetable breaks down, noses will be turned… it’s just not appetizing. Secondly, cabbage is a great blank slate. As in kimchi and sauerkraut, cabbage nearly always benefits from a meaty highlight. Whether it be with bulgogi or corned beef, both elements help round out the overall flavor profile. If you’re vegetarian? Peanuts  make a great pairing, as do whole spices (mustard seeds, peppercorns).

One of my new favorite ways to cook cabbage is with Lap Xuong (Chinese: Lap Cheong), a Vietnamese/Chinese cured sweet pork sausage. Beautifully dotted with pork fat, a gorgeously warm red flavor – it’s the candy bacon of Asia.

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Now, Lap Xuong is by no means healthy for you, the trick is to use it to season the cabbage. Just a little bit will do – I only used 1/2 a whole sausage for a whole cabbage! I also found a pork and chicken mixed Lap Xuong sausage, so it has less saturated fat. Please enjoy the recipe that follows for lunar new year, as a side dish, or a healthy meal alongside a bowl of brown rice.

Stir Fried Cabbage with Lap Xuong

1 Medium head cabbage, sliced thinly

1/2 medium carrot, cut in rings or strips

1/2 Lap Xuong sausage (find it at your local Asian store), cubed very small

1 Tbs fish sauce (can sub salt or soy sauce, to taste)

Black Pepper

  1. Heat a wok or large sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the cubed lap xuong and sliced carrots. No need to oil here! The Lap Xuong will render its fat to oil for you.
  3. Let the lap xuong and carrots brown for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced cabbage, and toss to combine. Allow to cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until cabbage is tender. Do not overcook!
  5. Season with fish sauce and pepper.
  6. Turn off the heat, toss again, and taste to adjust seasoning. Serve hot with a bowl of rice, by itself, or as a side dish. Enjoy!

carrotlapxuongRendering the fat. 

IMG_0033_FotorĂn Ngon! (That means Bon Appetit in Vietnamese)