Saturday, 2 July 2011
Rescuing beet greens and bean skins
Frugality, as I've said before, isn't just about buying cheap but making the best use of what you buy. And nowhere is this more true than of beetroot leaves and broad bean skins, that get discarded from the now seemingly compulsory double podding process. This week I've found uses for both.
First the greens, because that was a triumph, though I say so myself. I turned them into a Greek style spanakopitta by wilting them then mixing them with chopped spring onions and a little garlic softened in a mixture of oil and butter and some feta-style ewes' milk cheese I'd impulsively bought in the farmers' market then stuffing them into a filo pastry case. Really pretty and really tasty.
Beet Green Spanakopitta
the leaves from a bunch (or two) of beets
2 tbsp olive oil
a bunch of spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced (or a leek)
1 clove garlic, crushed
150g-200g feta or similar white crumbly cheese (you could use something like Caerphilly or Wensleydale and add a squeeze of lemon)
1 lightly beaten egg
A pack of filo pastry
Freshly ground black pepper and possibly a little salt
Wash the beet leaves and rip the leaves off the central rib. (If you're feeling exceptionally frugal you could stir-fry these) Pile them up in a saucepan without any extra water, put on a lid and leave over a low heat until the leaves collapse, turning them once or twice. Don't cook them or you'll lose the colour. Drain them in a colander then squeeze out the water and chop.
Meanwhile warm the oil in a small frying pan and add a quarter of the butter. Add the crushed garlic and spring onions and cook for a minute or two until soft. Set aside to cool then add the chopped leaves and crumbled cheese and about two thirds of the beaten egg. Season well with pepper and a little salt if you feel it needs it.
Take the pastry out of the fridge and let it come to for 20 minutes. Remove the packaging and wrap the filo sheets in a damp tea towel so they don't dry out. Melt the remaining butter. Take the filo sheets one by one and brush them lightly with melted butter and lay them into your dish or tin. Use just under half the filo sheets, layering them up so the whole base of the dish/tin is covered. Cover with the beet green filling then lay the remaining buttered filo sheets over the top. Tuck the edges in neatly (the beauty of filo is you don't have to do it evenly) and brush with the remaining beaten egg. You can cut the pastry into diamond shapes as I've done but you don't have to.
Cook in a hot (225°C) oven for about 20 minutes until the pastry is well browned then set aside. Serve warm or cool but don't refrigerate.
I was about to chuck my broad bean skins, I must confess, when it suddenly occurred to me you could make a nice little tapa with them. So I sweated off a bit of chopped pancetta - again from the farmers' market - in some olive oil with a couple of chopped spring onions and a crushed clove of garlic then simply turned the beans in the flavoured oil to warm them through. Actually I cooked them for a minute, hence the rather dull colour, but you don't need to provided the skins aren't too tough. And if they are you wouldn't want to make the dish anyway. Not a great photo but you get the idea.
And this is what I made with the actual beets and skinned beans ...