Root to Greens {Lost Edibles}

Hey stranger, its been a while! I’ve been meaning to post sooner but this week just flew by and life has been so busy!

I wanted to talk about using whole vegetables, because if you are like me and you are used to seeing grocery store vegetables already prepped, sometimes its hard to know what other parts of the plant you can actually eat. In most cases, you can eat the entire thing. I’ve even discovered that most the weeds in my yard and garden are edible and really really good for you too. Bonus. In the case of rhubarb, however, the leaves are toxic. So that puts me off right there, I don’t want to take a chance with something like that. How do I know what is safe to eat or not?

I can’t give a simple answer for that unfortunately, I wish I could! Really, what I do is just research before eating things I’m unfamiliar with and over time, it just becomes second nature. And its really great to eat the entire vegetable, usually the greatest nutrition is in the bits we’re throwing away, like the green tops or the skin. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve peeled things many times knowing the skin is good for me, just to make it look “pretty”. But how can you go wrong with not peeling. I mean really? Less work = good. More nutrients = good. Can’t go wrong.

I finished reading a book called The Quarter-Acre Farm: How I Kept the Patio, Lost the Lawn, and Fed My Family for a Year by Spring Warren. In it she makes a great point, that is so so true in my eyes. She says, “We have been schooled into believing that there is a narrow subset of edibles in the world, in our gardens, and on each plant. It’s what we see when we go into the grocery store. And the reason we don’t see more of what is edible in the grocery stores isn’t because the breadth of edibility is narrow, it’s because of ease.”

So basically there are lost foods, or even parts of foods, that have fallen out of use, and therefore out of memory (as Spring puts it). I’m sure eating the greens from beets was common practice in the good old days. Now, at farmers markets I just see almost everyone asking for them to be removed. Thats, like, the best part! I wasn’t always about eating the whole veg though, much like eating the whole animal, it takes some getting used to and a lot of ‘I can eat that?!?!” moments.

I’d really like take you guys with me on my journey of discovering lost edibles, and I’d like to get into wild edibles at some point as well. And I promise I will cover lots of veg before I start getting into the animal kingdom for those that are a bit squeamish. But I do love me some chicken gizzards and hearts.

Lets start with beet greens (well, second start…), which I think are gaining some recognition thankfully! Radish greens are delicious as well, so don’t be throwing those away any time soon either! Save those ones for another post :)

So heres something… I never knew raw beet greens would be any good… I thought they would be all tough. They are slightly tougher than lettuce, but not bad at all. Its actually quite nice. I’ve only ever sauteed it like you would spinach, and it is delicious, similar to swiss chard. This recipe features raw beet greens with roasted beets, some quinoa, seeds and avocado with a tahini-tangy-sweet dressing. A really lovely combination.

This recipe is from Sprouted Kitchen. They have a book out which I WANT really bad. My sis got it, lucky girl! you will LOVE it! Plus the photography is amazing…. swoon….

Beet Green Chopped Salad

Recipe from Sprouted Kitchen’s Beet Green Chopped Salad
Serves 4 as a side

1 bunch of beets, including fresh looking greens
olive oil for cooking
4 scallions, white and light green parts
1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
1 small avocado, diced
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds (I used sesame seeds because that was what I had)
tahini dressing

2 Tbsp. tahini
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp. agave nectar, depending on desired sweetness (I used honey
3 Tbsp. water, or as needed
hefty pinch of salt and pepper
1 clove of garlic finely minced (I omitted this)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. finely chopped chives

For the dressing:

To prepare the dressing, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, vinegar, agave and water. Mix in the garlic, hearty pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle in the olive oil while whisking. Add more water if you prefer it thinner. Mix in the chives. Adjust to your taste and set aside.

For the salad:

Preheat the oven to 450ºF.

Cut the greens from the beets at their stem. Rub a bit of olive oil on the skin of the beets, sprinkle with salt and wrap them all in a foil pack. Set on the middle oven rack and cook for 45-55 minutes until you can easily piece through with a knife. Set them aside to cool.

Cut the greens from the beets at their stem. Rub a bit of olive oil on the skin of the beets, sprinkle with salt and wrap them all in a foil pack. Set on the middle oven rack and cook for 45-55 minutes until you can easily piece through with a knife. Set them aside to cool.

While the beets roast, clean and dry the greens. Chop off and discard the long red stems. Chop the greens and put them in a large mixing bowl.

To prepare the dressing, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, vinegar, agave and water. Mix in the garlic, hearty pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle in the olive oil while whisking. Add more water if you prefer it thinner. Mix in the chives. Adjust to your taste and set aside.

Once the beets are cool enough to touch, you should be able to just push the skin off with your fingers. Use a paring knife to help it along. Dice the peeled beets. Thinly slice the scallions. Add the beets, scallions, quinoa and avocado to the mixing bowl and toss with a generous amount of dressing (note: the salad will turn pink from the beets. If this bothers you, you can toss everything without the diced beets, and sprinkle them on top). Sprinkle in the seeds, give it one more toss.

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