When I buy beets, carrots and turnips at the market, they are often presented as bright bunches, crowned with exuberant stalks sprouting a cascade of green leaves. While it may be tempting to chop off the stems and discard the mountain of greens left behind with the trimmings ... do not do that.
These greens are delicious on their own, sauteed in olive oil, blitzed into pestos, folded into omelets and baked in frittatas. Rich in nutrients and ranging from sweet to peppery to earthy in flavor, they are an underappreciated bonus attached to your roots and crucifers.
Lately, I’ve been on a beet green kick. Yellow or golden beets are sweet, nutty and less earthy than their red brethren, and their mildness is reflected in the flavor of their leaves. I remove and store the leaves in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, where they can last for up to one week, ready for use in a simple side dish or, in this recipe, a frittata.
It’s safe to say that this is a very green frittata, with just enough egg to bind the leaves but not dominate. If you prefer a more eggy dish, feel free to add two more eggs and one additional tablespoon of half-and-half. You can use just one or any combination of greens, including the tops of beets, carrots and turnips, as well as chopped kale and chard leaves. (If using kale or chard, remove the stems and ribs before adding them to the mix.) I blanch sturdy greens, such as kale, chard and beet greens, first to wilt them just enough for a quick saute in olive oil and garlic before adding the eggs. When using more fragile greens, such as wispy carrot tops, you can omit the blanching step.
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
1 pound greens
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon half-and-half or whole milk
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1/4 cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Wash the greens and tear into large pieces. If using kale or chard, remove the ribs.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the greens and blanch until bright in color, about 1 minute. Drain the greens and press to remove any excess liquid.
Whisk the eggs and milk in a bowl and stir in half of the cheese. Mix the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs together in a separate small bowl and set aside.
Heat the oil in a 10-inch oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and chili flakes and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in the greens, season with the salt and black pepper, and saute until the greens are wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat. Pour the eggs over the greens, gently nudging the greens around to evenly distribute the eggs. Sprinkle the cheese and breadcrumbs evenly over the frittata.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the eggs are set and the top of the frittata is golden brown in spots, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.