Every time I cook for an audience, someone leans over the table and whispers in my ear. “I hate Brussels sprouts,” they’ll say, or maybe it’s asparagus, fennel or squash. Then, conspiratorially, they share, “but I love what you just cooked.”
These are my proudest moments. Cooking vegetables crisp-tender, lightly salted with bright vinegar and rich butter, is like a music montage makeover, the equivalent of removing big glasses and drawing the bangs from their shining face.
However, faced with beet greens, I thought I was beaten. The purring I’d hear while rattling off ingredients for my weekly cooking demo – Asian pears, cauliflower and blue oyster mushrooms – would end in a full glottal stop at the mention of beet greens, grins turning to grimaces.
I moved ahead, inspired. Tender, young, deep crimson Bull’s Blood beet greens were earthy-sweet, reminding me of my Mom’s braised red cabbage. Chopped apple and cider drew out sugars while cinnamon and fresh ginger added bright warmth.
The ultimate test was my friend Michael. Who, after three days of urging, finally, standing at my Eastern Market demo, took a bite. “They’re not bad,” he offered. Then he cleaned his plate.
PS I love Brussels sprouts. A lot.
Cider-braised beet greens
- 1 tbs butter
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 Honeycrisp apple, diced
- 1 pound Bull’s Blood or other beet greens, cut in a chiffonade (ribbons)*
- 2 tbs Autumn Apple or cider vinegar*
- 1/2 cup apple cider
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tbs diced fresh ginger
- 2 cloves
*Grab Bull’s Blood beet greens from Gardener’s Gourmet at Eastern Market – they’re the folks who always have beautiful greens out in fun, metal tubs. Autumn Apple vinegar, from Sapore, is indispensable in my Fall pantry.
- Heat butter and olive oil in a 3-4 quart saucepan over medium low heat. Sauté onion until soft, about 3 min.
- Add apple, and sauté for 4 minutes.
- Add beet greens, Autumn Apple vinegar, cider, cinnamon stick and ginger. Cover and cook until beet greens are tender but still firm, about 5 minutes.
- Uncover and cook until liquid reduces, another 3-5 minutes. The greens will give up a lot of moisture as they wilt.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper and additional vinegar as needed.