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beets, radish, spinach, and zucchiniBeets are amazingly resilient plants, and they are a wonderful medium for combining cooking and gardening skills. I like to bring beets home from market and save their root tops to make a counter top garden. First, chop off the beet’s greens leaving a wedge of the root intact. Place the flat edge of the root in water so that the water level is just lower than the green shoots. Now for the gardening skill: Whenever a plant experiences trauma—for example, transplanting, rooting, or harvesting—it is wise to remove its flowers and a few of its leaves so it can recover. Therefore, harvest some or most of the larger beet greens now, and the beet root will continue to produce. I need only keep a few small leaves on the root to keep it going. Water the root every day, and it will continue to leaf for a good two weeks. Toss the root if it discolors or develops any tiny spots of mold; these are sure signs that the plant is failing.

As you harvest the beet greens, they can be tossed in a salad, stirfry, or smoothie. Sweeter than kale and naturally salty, beet greens are an excellent source of nutrition especially rich in calcium, amino acid, and Vitamin A. My favorite dish of the spring season is a breakfast stirfry that combines the greens with peaches and garlic. And, seriously, no added salt is required for this dish.

Peaches and Beet Green Stirfry

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp minced green garlic
I cup beet greens
1 peach pitted and wedged

In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the green garlic. Once the garlic has softened, add the shoots of the beet greens first, one minute later toss in the peach wedges. The peach will add enough liquid to begin to form a light gravy. After a minute or two, top the stirfry with beet greens and cover. The beet greens will wilt and steam to a brilliant red and green—red at the stalks, green at the roots. Remove from heat and serve.

Makes 1-2 servings… depending on how much you love your partner.

The produce for this recipe all came from the Saturday farmers markets in downtown Yellow Springs. The vendors unpack their wares early these days so get to market between 7am and 9am for the best pickings. The beets are glorious from Flying Mouse Farms and flew from their stand at last Saturday’s Yellow Springs Farmers Market in Kings Yard. See Diane Hagstrum for swoon-worthly peaches at the Corner Cone Farmers Market. Last week’s offering was excellent!

The green garlic is the rarer find of the three—unless you are growing garlic in your spring garden. A clove of garlic and fresh chive will make fine substitution if you can’t find green garllic. I bought mine from Doug and Leslie at Peach Mountain about a month ago. Green garlic looks like green onion except its stalks are flat, not round cylinders. It has kept well in the refrigerator and—stretching over many, many meals—is an excellent source of savory flavor when used with a light hand.

Finally, my cooking butter of choice is the goat butter that Tom’s Market graciously carries. It has a funkiness to it and makes a great gravy—which if you haven’t figured out by now, is what I am all about.


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