Godly greens: My light and fresh beetroot greens and potato salad.
Spring is quite an amazing time. The air is fresh and carries the smell of new things. This season calls for light flavours, for softness and crunch, for some sweetness and for a delicate balance. To me spring is the season of salads, but sometimes a light and crunchy salad just isn’t enough to fuel your engines. My beetroot and potato salad is the perfect lunch for a fresh and warm spring noon. Tender stalks and leaves of the beetroot, soft and silky potatoes and a dressing, that’s sweet, light and fresh. What better way to enjoy the sun.
Each year the average European produces about 260 kg worth of food waste  (Oh yeah, I’m doing citations now), the average American, by the way, is even more productive with 295 kg of waste. The use of the word production is a bit misleading here, as it implies that the food is actually touched or cooked. But that’s not the case. In fact, about one million tonnes of wasted food in the UK have never been opened or have been left whole . Most of this is due to bad planning, to shopping carts packed too full and to irresistible bulk-offers. Buy three for the price of one and throw away two. One way of reducing food waste is by actually eating the stuff you buy. Or to just buy the stuff you will actually eat. And most importantly, to eat all of it. Some losses are unavoidable, banana peels, for example, just don’t taste good in soups. Or anything, really. But other trimmings and “waste” can be quite delicious. Beetroot stalks and leaves, for example make for an excellent spring lunch. I have expressed my love for the red bulb elsewhere, but I love its stalks and leaves just as much. Throw in a few potatoes and a light dressing and you end up with my perfect light spring beetroot greens and potato salad.
Buy your beetroots very fresh, the leaves should be full, rich and a bit glossy. They are at their best on the day of harvesting, when the mud on the bulb is still moist. Cut the stems off the bulbs and wash them. If you can’t use them within the next few hours, wrap the bulbs and leaves in damp newspaper and store in the fridge. This dish is lovely as a starter, but makes for a brilliant lunch.
My beetroot greens and potato salad
Beetroot stalks and leaves (use chard, if you can't or don't want to get beetroots) Potatoes Olive oil Mustard Honey White wine vinegar Salt Pepper Garlic Parmesan
This salad is best enjoyed warm, not too hot (the dressing would split) and not too cool (or at some luke-warmish room-temperature for that matter). The potatoes will take the longest to cook (about ten minutes, plus a bit time to cool down), so pop them in first, the stalks and leaves will need less than 5 minutes, cook them before serving, this leaves you with enough time to make the dressing. For a filling lunch I use about two hands of small potatoes and the grens of two rather large beets.
I use small potatoes for this recipe because I find they look rather good in this salad, but if you can’t be bothered with finding them, just cut larger potatoes into smaller cubes, it’s not rocket science really. Half the small potatoes and boil them in salted water (be a bit generous with the salt, you want the potatoes to taste like something), they are done when the tip of a knife pierces them easily.
Cut the stalks off the leaves, or the leaves off the stalks (it doesn’t really matter which way around), as the stalks need longer cooking than the leaves.
Rinse the stalks under cold water and cut them into two to three centimeters chunks. Cook them in a pan with happily boiling salted water, for about four minutes. You might need less or more time. I love mine all tender, but perhaps you like a bit of a bite to your stalks.
Rinse the leaves under cold water to get rid of any grid. Briefly cook the leaves in simmering (Water simmer when you can clearly spot circulation, but there are not bubbles yet) and slightly salted water. Give them about a minute or two, drain and rinse under cold water, to stop the cooking process.
Mix about 3 tablespoons of a good white wine vinegar with about 3/4 of a teaspoon of mild mustard, one teaspoon of honey, a crushed small, fresh clove of garlic, salt and pepper to the taste. Stir a bit, add about 4 tablespoons of a good olive oil and shake (I usually use old and cleaned jam-jars or something alike). Mix this dressing only minutes before serving, to ensure that the flavours remain subtle. The word “good” is crucial in this recipe, there are not many ingredients, or flavours, so those that are there need to deliver.
Add the cooked potatoes, stalks and leaves to a bowl and quickly mix with the dressing. Plate up and grate over a decent amount of parmesan. That’s really all it is.
A note of caution:
The juice of beetroots tends to taint clothes and some plastics. Its leaves and stems contain far less of the red juice, but a bit of caution might still be appropriate.