Serves: Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 1 pound beet greens (from about 3 bunches beets)
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- Kosher or sea salt
- 1 lemon
- Whipped Feta:
- ½ pound Greek, French, Bulgarian, or Israeli feta cheese
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- Pinch of hot red pepper flakes or coarsely ground medium-hot red pepper such as Syrian Aleppo or Turkish Mara
- ¼ teaspoon dried Turkish mint, or 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh mint
- 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Procedures:Many people discard the beet stems when preparing beets or beet greens, but the stems can be quite tasty. Boil them separately from the greens, then dress them with garlic, fruity olive oil, and lemon juice. Serve as a first course alongside the cooked greens and some garlicky whipped feta seasoned with mint. Pass warm pita bread and a bowl of Kalamata olives.
- Separate the beet leaves from the stems. Cut the stems into 1-inch lengths.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the beet greens and boil until tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer them with tongs to a sieve or colander and run under cold running water to stop the cooking. Drain and squeeze dry. Chop coarsely.
- Add the beet stems to the boiling water and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain in the sieve or colander and run under cold running water to stop the cooking. Drain again and pat dry on paper towels.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium skillet over moderate heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beet greens, season with salt, and cook, stirring, until hot throughout. Transfer to a bowl. Add lemon juice to taste and let cool until warm.
- In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over moderate heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beet stems, season with salt, and cook, stirring, until hot throughout. Transfer to a bowl. Add lemon juice to taste and let cool until warm.
- To make the whipped feta, put the feta, garlic, hot pepper flakes, mint, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small food processor and puree until smooth, adding up to 1 tablespoon more oil if necessary to achieve a smooth consistency.
- Arrange the beet greens on one end of a serving platter. Put the beet stems on the other end and the whipped feta in the middle. Serve immediately.