I love the smooth texture and understated sweetness of a lukewarm beet. Since ours first got big enough to pull, I’ve been boiling them, chopping them, and eating them on salads, omelets, and even plain. They’re beginning to feel less like a luxury and more like a necessity. How did I go thirty years of my life without fresh beets?
But as much as I love these delectable crimson roots, I’ve had one issue: what to do with all their greens. I feel guilty putting those beautiful two-toned leaves directly onto the compost pile, when I know how delicious and nutritious they are. But there are just so many of them. Every four-ounce beet seems to come with eight ounces of greens. And with all the other greens we’ve got available now in the garden–lettuce, tatsoi, and spinach–it’s hard to consider stir-frying yet another plate of leaves, no matter how yummy.
Which brings us to the mission I set myself today for lunch: to find an enticing new way to use beet greens. For help, I turned to my favorite seasonal cookbook, Simply in Season. A bunch of Mennonite locavores from around the world contributed recipes to this cookbook, and as I leafed through looking for something to do with spring greens, my eye was caught by Cheryl Hochstetler Shirk’s recipe for Spinach Squares. Hm, beet greens ought to work in place of spinach, right?
Indeed they did! The result was superb: a cross between a crust-less spinach quiche, spanikopita, and a cheddar-cheese biscuit. It made an excellent accompaniment to a green salad topped with beets. So here’s the recipe, with a few changes from Cheryl Hochstetler Shirk’s original.
In a medium bowl, combine 3 eggs, 3/4 C. white flour, 1/4 C. whole wheat flour, 1 C. milk, and 1 tsp. baking powder. Mix well.
Add 2 C. shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 lb. chopped spring greens (spinach, beet greens, etc.), and, if desired, something with a little zing, like a chopped jalapeño or some diced onion. Mix.
Press into a 9″ x 9″ greased baking pan. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.