When I was a child, the only beets I ever saw were the ones that came from a can. Needless to say, I never liked beets. The odor emanating from the can alone used to make me run out of the kitchen as fast as my legs could move.
It’s not until I started growing my own vegetables in my early 20′s that I truly discovered beets. They were very easy to grow and if reseeded a couple of times in the season, I could harvest them from late spring all the way to the first snow. They came in all kinds of colors, and best of all, I could eat the roots as well as feast on their luscious green tops. I became a voracious fan of beets!
A quick way to prepare the beet greens is to sauté them with garlic and red pepper flakes (I love adding a bit of spiciness to cooked leafy greens — it’s a marriage made in heaven!). Here, I serve these warm beet-green crostini as an hors d’oeuvre or appetizer. Cooked this way, the greens become incredibly tender and flavorful.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1/2 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes, or to taste
- 2 large cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 12 ounces beet greens or Swiss chard, trimmed, and cut into in ¼-inch strips
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 baguette, cut on a bias into ¼-inch-thick slices
Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add the oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the beet greens and sauté for 4-5 minutes until all the juices have evaporated and the greens turn dark green, tossing from time to time. Add the salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Toss well and remove from heat.
Preheat the broiler. Toast the bread under the broiler on each side until golden and crispy. Top each bread slice with a small mound of beet greens and drizzle with a little olive oil. Set 2 crostini on an individual plate and serve warm.