Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sweets and Beets - Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Beet Greens

After chopping the greens off some beets to make some Really Pink Dip (coming soon,) I was about to throw out the stems and leaves when it occurred to me that they might be good for something. So I turned to my trusty pal, Google, where I found a guide to all cooking greens! Sweet! Pinned it! I have a feeling I'll be referencing this until the "Summer Share" season ends at my CSA in October.

The beet greens bit says that they can be substituted for chard, and clicking around eventually led me to a Chard Gnocchi recipe. I didn't have all the ingredients, so I faked it.

Beets and Sweets - Beet Greens and Sweet Potato Gnocchi
1 package Trader Joe's frozen Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Butter and Sage
1 bunch beet greens and stems
olive oil
1-2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, powdered or finely grated
salt/pepper to taste
Optional - dried herbs or seasonings. Italian seasoning might be good with this.

Preheat oven to Broil

Step 1: Cut stems from leaves. You can either hack the stems off below where they meet the leaf, then make a thin V around the stem on the leaf, or just make the V cut around the stem and keep the whole stem together. I hacked mine off, since it made the stems and leaves easier to work with in a cramped area.

Step 2: Chop stems into small bits, roughly 1/8th-inch thick and place in frying pan or small pot. Set aside.

Step 3: Chop leaves into pieces as small as your patience allows. I don't like big wet gloppy leaves hitting me in the chin, so I went pretty small. Set aside.

Step 4: Poke or slice some holes for venting in the top of the frozen Gnocchi package and microwave for 3-4 minutes on High. Feel free to open package and stir it after 3 minutes. I ended up stopping and stirring at 3, 4, and 5 minutes.

Step 5: Meanwhile, turn stovetop burner to Med/Med-Low (around 4 or 5,) and drizzle a little oil onto the chopped beet stems. (Seriously, doesn't need much. You can add more as you go if you feel you need it.) Add salt, pepper, and any other herbs or seasonings here. Place pan on burner and begin frying, stirring occasionally.

Step 6: Here's where I'm less useful. When the stems are done-ish, probably sometime before 15-minutes of frying (I didn't time it,) add the leaves and fry and stir for a few more minutes. I kept getting a stem chunk out periodically and chewing on it. When it was soft enough to please me, I added the leaf bits.
Step 7: Pour Gnocchi (and any excess sage butter in the package) and beet greens and stems into a small baking dish. A square one works fine, even a pie dish would do. I prefer glass, mostly because they're easier to clean and I don't have to worry about scratching the non-stick finish with my fork. 
Step 8: Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and broil until Gnocchi are browned and crispy.

The Verdict: 
I liked it. The beet greens didn't detract from the dish at all. I only ended up using a quarter of the stems, and only two leaves, since I was afraid of "ruining" my yummy Sweet Potato Gnocchi. The different textures were odd, but I wouldn't have minded having more stem and leaf bits in there. They didn't really affect the flavor much at all. I ended up going back for seconds and eating the whole thing.  

The original recipe called for boiling the greens, which I opted not to do, since I hate boiling off the vitamins and draining them out. But if making gnocchi from scratch, or using an un-seasoned pre-made kind that can be boiled, feel free to try it that way. This would be interesting to try in a crock-pot too. I bet everything would be a nice purpley-pink by the end!

I also forgot to add the Parmesan onto mine before broiling. Oh well. Still enjoyed it.

The unused stems got chopped up for some CSA Veggie and Ham Bake. Since I didn't end up using most of the leaves, I toyed with the idea to try my Kale Chips recipe with them, but decided I really didn't care all that much about throwing them out after all. They went into my compost bag.

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