Day 11: Garlic and Thyme Beet Greens

16 Jan

One of the challenges of The Ration Diaries is that it stops me short when I’m cooking, and deprives me of my go-to recipes. For example, my tendency to douse everything in Italian olive oil? Not so much anymore. Stir-fried mixed greens with Sriracha chili sauce and garlic? Nope. But it has made me a bit more creative, and it’s made me think about fully utilizing every possible portion of an ingredient. Take gribenes from leftover roast chicken. Or in today’s case, beet greens and beets.

If possible, it’s always a good idea to buy beets in bunches, with the greens attached. For one thing, it’s hard to pass off old beets for young if the greens are attached – if the leaves look perky and aren’t too wilted, the beets are still going to be in good condition. For another, you can use the beet greens as a side. They taste like a less peppery version of kale or spinach. Cut the beets off the stems and use them for whatever you fancy. Then just thoroughly wash and dry the greens to remove the sand that they’re usually covered in, and separate the red ribs of the beet greens from the leaves. If I had my way, I’d stir fry it all in olive oil, then add garlic and chili flakes, or sriracha chili sauce and garlic. But I’m determined to stick to the rations, so I went with this recipe! Most likely, thyme would have been dried, but if you have fresh available, it’s worth using that instead. Wild garlic, which has a milder flavor than garlic, has grown in Britain since the Romans, so although it was completely unpopular in World War II, it was available for those who fancied it.

This makes a great side dish if you’re not on rations (in other words, if you’re sane), or if you’re feeling particularly strict, a slice of toast and a sliver of cheese could round this out to a lunch. Tomorrow, I’ll tackle the beets – stay tuned!

Garlic and Thyme Beet Greens

1 Serving (appetizer or side)

Beet greens from 1 bunch beets, cleaned, separated into ribs and leaves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or drippings
3 cloves garlic
3 sprigs thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Finely chop the ribs of the beet greens, as you would celery sticks. Cut through the beet greens once or twice, leaving them VERY roughly chopped, so as to leave them a bit of texture when cooked. Heat the oil or drippings in a large sauté pan. When shimmering, add the chopped ribs of the beet greens, the garlic and the thyme. Sauté until tender, then add the greens and season with salt and pepper. Cook just until the leaves are wilted and tender, then remove from the heat and serve. I tend to leave the garlic and thyme in with them, but if you don’t fancy the look of them, you can always fish out the garlic and them and toss them before serving. You could top the greens with a bit of ricotta salata, if you aren’t in World War II Britain.


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