Saturday, February 23, 2013

SALAD WITH SAUTÉED BEET GREENS


I remember this salad from my childhood.  I never went close to any type of beet back then. I was too weary of their red color which would easily stain my hands and clothes.  So rather than learn how to negotiate eating them, I avoided them all together.  As an adult, I developed quite a taste for the sweet flavor of beets.  Now, I always cook them in the oven, and sometimes I even add their leaves right into the baking pan.  However, the leaves of the beet plant can be used on their own to make a very appetizing salad.  They are green with red stems and they resemble chard, which by the way is a relative of the common beet.  Most people prefer to eat the red, sweet root of the plant, therefore they cut off and discard the leaves.  Next time save the leaves, give them a good rinsing with cold water, and turn them into this healthy, low calorie salad.  The leaves are blanched for a few minutes and then are sautéed in olive oil.  It's a simple salad which makes an excellent lunch.

Ingredients:

2 or 3 bunches of beets
2 cloves of garlic, chopped well
1 shallot, chopped very well
salt and pepper to taste
lemon juice to taste
olive oil



Directions:

  • Cut the leaves from the beets, and reserve the beets for another purpose.  The beetroots have a long life if stored in the refrigerator, but the leaves need to be cooked soon after the beets are bought.
Refrigerate and reserve the beetroots for another use.  I'll be turning them into a salad later on in the week...
  • Slice the leaves in pieces of about one inch in length, and rinse them well.
The beet greens washed and chopped.  
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the greens.  Cook for 5 minutes, until they start to get tender.  
  • Using a slotted spoon transfer the leaves into a bowl filled with ice and cold water.  Leave them in the water for about a minute then drain them.  Dry the greens on paper towels so that they don't splatter while being sauteed.
  • In a large skillet heat some olive oil and saute the shallot until it starts to soften.  
  • Add the greens and the garlic and cook stirring for about 3 minutes.  Stir well so that all the flavors blend together. 
  • Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place the greens on a serving platter and sprinkle with lemon juice.
  • Drizzle some olive oil on and around the greens and serve along with extra lemon wedges.


This is my contribution to "Souper Sundays," hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen. Each Sunday Deb features posts with recipes for soup, salad or stews.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

PHYLLO PIE WITH SPRING SALAD GREENS

A Greek savory pie made with phyllo dough is called "pita" for short.  Pitas are made with various fillings, the most popular of which is spinach, which is used to make the ubiquitous spanakopita.  The pita featured in this post is reminiscent of spanakopita, but it's made with organic salad greens, the ones that are sold pre-mixed.  Included in the blend I used were arugula, chard, radicchio, and a variety of baby lettuces such as oak, frisee, red leaf and green leaf.  The taste of the pie was definitely lighter than that of spanakopita.  I used no salt because the feta contains enough salt to add flavor. My pita tasted something like a big, green, salad sandwich.  The phyllo was crunchy and the cheeses added creaminess... yum!  I loved it.  Many thanks to my mother and her friend Soula, who showed me how to make the stuffing for this lovely pita.  
It lost some of its pigment while cooking, but the radicchio is still visible in this picture.  Never had radicchio cooked in the oven before, but it turned out to be one of the tastiest things in the pie... 
Ingredients:
1 pound of #7 phyllo leaves
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound of salad greens, a mixture with lots of different greens, lightly chopped
8 scallions, chopped thinly
a mixture of olive and canola oil
black pepper to taste
3/4 cup shredded feta cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 chopped dill
2 eggs, beaten
bread crumbs

For the topping:
Mix together 1 egg, beaten and 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Directions:
  • Have ready a 9x13x2 baking pan, a pastry brush and a clean large kitchen towel. You will need a large pan to accommodate the size of the phyllo leaves and the quantity of ingredients that will be used.
  • If the phyllo was purchased frozen, make sure it's thawed to room temperature.  
Prepare the filling:
  • In a skillet saute the onions in about 2 tablespoons of the oil until they are soft.  Take the skillet off the heat and let the onions cool down.  In a large bowl add the onions and then mix in the scallions, the cheeses, the dill, the eggs, 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs and all the salad greens.  Mix well and season with pepper.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Take the phyllo out of its wrapping and place it on the counter.  Unfold it and cover it with the kitchen towel.  Half the phyllo will be used for the bottom of the pie, and the other half for the top.  Place some olive oil in a bowl and have the pastry brush at hand.  Brush the bottom of the baking pan with a little olive oil.  Lift the kitchen towel, take a piece of phyllo and layer it on the pan.  Cover the rest of the phyllo with the towel. 
  • Lightly brush the piece of phyllo in the pan with some oil.  It's even all right to leave some spots uncovered with oil.  In this way the pie will not be too greasy or weighed down with oil.  Once the oil has been brushed on, sprinkle a few bread crumbs on the phyllo.  The bread crumbs are used to absorb moisture from the filling, so that the phyllo stays crisp.  

  • Add another piece of phyllo over the bread crumbs and proceed in the same manner of layering until half the phyllo leaves are used.   Don't forget to keep covering your supply of phyllo so that it doesn't dry out.  If it gets dry it will start to crumble and get too difficult to handle.  
  • Once half the phyllo leaves have been layered on the bottom of the pan, add the filling on top.  
  • Layer the rest of the phyllo over the stuffing and brush each slice with oil.  There is no need to use bread crumbs on the top layers of phyllo.  
  • Once the phyllo has been layered, trim the edges with kitchen shears and fold the ends in the pan. 
  • Brush the top with some oil and then brush it with the topping. 
  • Score the pie into square slices and bake it for about 1 hour, until the phyllo is golden crisp.