Mixed green fritters are a great way to enjoy edible greens – both the ones that people traditionally eat (like kale, mustard greens and spinach), and the ones that people usually throw away (like those of sweet potatoes, radishes, beets and broccoli).
I made my most recent batch using a simple and healthier-than-deep-fried recipe from food to glow that I had been meaning to try. (Food to glow is a great food blog focused on nutrition and cancer.) The original recipe was made with foraged greens – but rather than go foraging around LAX, I decided to use what I could forage from my fridge: beet greens, kale (with stems removed), cilantro and scallions.
The cilantro, scallions and beet green stems elevated what would have been a very nice side dish to a more central role in the meal, and were nicely complemented by a dollop of chipotle mayonnaise.
There are few things I like more than a good Indian meal, and one of my favorite curries is saag. When you get it in North America, it’s usually made with spinach, but it can be made with any green or mix of greens – and it’s a great way to use edible greens that typically end up in the bin, like those of sweet potatoes, radishes, carrots, beets and broccoli.
I made a small batch with carrot greens the other night, which I served with roasted carrots and red peppers, tandoori chicken, watermelon rind chutney and turmeric rice – a meal just overflowing with complex spices and aromas.
Carrot green saag (two small servings)
1 tsp cooking oil
2½ oz onion, diced
1 poblano chili, seeded and diced
1½ tsp grated ginger
1 small clove garlic, crushed
¼ tsp coriander
⅛ tsp turmeric
2½ oz carrot greens, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp yogurt (optional)
⅛ tsp salt, or to taste
Sauté onions in oil over medium heat until they’re translucent.
Add in the chili, ginger, garlic, coriander and turmeric, and sauté until your kitchen smells good – about one minute.
Add in the carrot greens, and sauté for about 2 minutes.
Add enough water to cover the greens, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, and let simmer until carrot greens are tender – about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat, let cool (so you don’t blow the lid off of your blender with steam), and blend until homogenous.
Return to heat, and warm to serving temperature.
Stir in yogurt and salt.
I served roasted vegetables on top of this batch, but you can also stir in cooked potatoes, chicken, chickpeas, paneer (an Indian cheese) – or just about anything else.
Edible greens rescued from landfill per serving
Number of servings needed to save 1 pound of edible greens from landfill
Cost of 1 pound of edible greens which would usually be tossed
Cost of spinach at yummy.com as of 1 minute ago
$3.99 for 5 oz
Amount you can save by replacing 1 pound of baby spinach with free edible greens (assuming you shop at yummy.com)
Net impact on landfill if everyone in the US eats 1 pound of greens that would usually be tossed
155,000 short ton reduction
Total cost of that 155,000 short tons of green goodness
I recently read Spree’s blog post about “pint-size” spinach soufflés, and it got me thinking. I’d gotten out of the habit of making soufflés in Japan (where the typical gas oven is roughly three inches tall), but they’re a perfect way to use all sorts of vegetables, not to mention cheeses and herbs. I got more beets this week, so decided to try my hand at making beet green soufflé.
Beet green soufflé, sans souffle
The results are in the photo to the right, and tasted pretty darn good – though my soufflé lacked a little souffle. I think I need to get my soufflé skills back up to speed before I share any recipes, but for now just wanted to share the idea with those of you whose skills are already there. This is one classic dish that you can play with, and use to make the least sexy of ingredients taste great, and (my recent experiment notwithstanding) look like something worthy of a five-star restaurant.
I served the beet green soufflé with carrots in a lemon dill vinaigrette, and froze the peelings and ends for the next time I make stock — one of the many great tips that Zo shared in her blog entry, Save our skins – deliciously and easily.
Weight of beet greens rescued from landfill per serving
Reduction in food waste if every person in the developed world saves just 1 ounce of beet greens from landfill
About 31,250 short tons
Weight of the average sperm whale bull
45 short tons
Number of average sperm whale bulls needed to balance 31,250 short tons of beet greens
As one commenter pointed out, today is 2/22 (thanks, Mami), which cries to be a special day on this tiny sliver of the web. Maybe when the 222 million tons Facebook “likes” swell to numbers well beyond the current 11, I’ll have the clout to lobby for February 22 to become International Save Something from Landfill Day. Until then, I’ll just have to try making a small dent in the problem by sharing observations like this one: beet leaves and stems are tasty.
They’re often overlooked for the same reason that watermelon rind is; they live next to a real attention grabber – in this case beets. But beet leaves are tender and flavorful, and their stems are red, crisp, and have just a hint of beet flavor. Unlike beets, they don’t overwhelm, but they do add color and character to salads and other dishes.
Our most recent experiment with beets greens was a linguine with beet greens, which was good enough to share here.
Linguine with beet greens (serves 1)
2 oz linguine
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh garlic
5 button or crimini mushrooms
5 sun dried tomatoes (the ones packed in oil)
1 tsp oil from sun dried tomatoes
10 oz beet leaves with stems
1 pinch salt, or to taste
¼ tsp pepper, or to taste
¼ tsp dried chili flakes, or to taste
½ oz crumbled goat cheese
Fill a pot with water, and bring it to a boil.
You’ll be lightly sautéing the vegetables for this dish, and don’t want things to over cook while you’re busy practicing your knife skills or hunting for spices, so it’s best to do all the slicing and dicing up front. So, as the water comes to a boil:
Crush the garlic.
Slice the onion.
Clean and quarter the mushrooms.
Slice the sun dried tomatoes into strips.
Wash the beet leaves, remove their stems, and chop them into one- or two-inch lengths.
Slice the beet leaves crosswise into ¼ inch strips.
Crumble the goat cheese.
Get your spices ready.
By now the water should be boiling, so prepare the linguine according to the package directions. While that is cooking, you can cook the vegetables.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and sauté the onions and garlic for two or three minutes, until the onions are translucent.
Add in the mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and sun dried tomato oil, and sauté for two minutes.
Add in the beet leaves, and sauté until they start to wilt.
Throw in the stems, and sauté until they have imparted their color to the mushrooms and onions. Be careful not to over cook them, though, or they will become brownish and lose their crunch.
Remove from heat, and add salt and pepper to taste.
By now your linguine should be ready. Plate it, and top it with the sautéed vegetables.
Sprinkle with chili pepper flakes and goat cheese (I did that after I took the pictures).
Reduction in food waste per serving
Reduction in food waste if every person in the developed world saves just 10 ounces of beet greens from landfill