This dish really came about from a walk around the Ballard farmers market on Sunday. A lot of stands were just bursting with vibrant greens, the most awesome spring garlic that I have ever seen. The star, the complete star is the miners lettuce. I have never used this before, and think it is the darn coolest green I have come across. Visually it is stunning, you get this nice round leaf with this awesome little “flower” (if that is what it is) in the middle. You look at it and think that the leaves might be a little chewy. You pick a leaf off and eat it, and it is nothing but soft, subtle and gentle. Just amazing.
At the market I was looking for some beet greens, and found some attached to the tiniest beets I have ever seen. Some were smaller than a little finger nail. The rapini greens were great too – very vibrant and lush looking.I
It was one of those times when I saw a bunch of great ingredients, and bought them because I liked the look of them! My intention was to use them separately through the week… I needed to make a quick greens salad this week, and decided to use all these great finds in one dish. It turned out just awesome. The only bugger is that I used all this great produce up!!
I cooked each green separately. They all have different cooking times, and I wanted to make sure that the greens I was going to wilt (beet greens and rapini) were cooked till they were just wilted, but still with bite. The greens were cooked in olive oil and butter, along with the sliced spring garlic. The baby beets were cut off their stems, and glazed in some water, butter and sugar. They were then peeled, and tossed in the glaze reduction.
I did nothing with the miners lettuce, apart from trimming the the stems. These tasted so great raw, I didn’t want to cook them at all. The crisp texture of the miners lettuce was going to make a great contrast to the soft of the wilted greens and beets.
Miners Lettuce Salad, with baby beets, beet greens, rapini, spring garlic
1 bunch of miners lettuce
1 bunch of baby beets, with greens still attached
1 bunch of rapini
1 bunch of spring garlic
10 sage leaves, really thinly sliced across the leaf (chiffonade)
2 pinches of sugar
Cut the beets from the beet greens. Put the beets in a deep sided saute pan, and fill with enough water to just cover the beets. Add the pinches of sugar to the water, along with a small knob of butter. Put a lid on the pan, and get it boiling. Remove the lid slightly, so that some steam can release, and the water can reduce. Cooking time depends upon the size of the beets – with small ones like this it will be about 15 minutes – possibly 20. They are cooked when you can just push a knife through one pretty easily. The idea here is that they are just cooked through when you have almost no liquid in the pan – just enough for a glaze. If they are cooked before a lot of water is reduced, remove the beets from the liquid, reduce it to a glaze, then put them back in. If you need to add more water, do so.
Snip the miners lettuce stalks about 1/2″ from the leaves. Discard the stalks.
When the beets are cooked, allow them to cool and rub with a paper towel to peel. Toss them back into the glaze.
Cut the beet greens across the leaf into thin strips (1/2″ wide). Do the same for the rapini leaf. Trim off any excess stem. Slice the spring garlic diagonally across the stalk, discarding the dark green section.
In a large pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. When pretty hot toss in half of the garlic and half of the sage leaves. Cook for 30 seconds, then toss in the beet greens. Gently toss these in the butter/oil, and allow to wilt. This will only take a couple of minutes. When they are just wilted, remove them from the pan. Wipe the pan out.
Add another tablespoon of oil and butter to the pan. When hot, toss in the rest of the sage and garlic. Again, cook this for 30 seconds. Toss in the rapini leaves. Cook this till it is just wilted. This will cook through much faster – maybe 30 seconds.
To compose the dish put a small pile of the beet greens in the center of a plate. Top this with the rapini greens. On top of this put a pretty little pile of the miners lettuce. Scatter the beets throughout the dish. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the salad. This will help brighten and lift the flavors.