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Asian Influence: Aromatic creamed beet greens

By Jessie Lehail,
Special to The Post

Creamed spinach is a steakhouse restaurant standard. I love this dish, but this summer’s heat has produced a bounty of beets and beet greens in my parent’s garden, leading to me experiment with a different kind of leafy green.
Even if you don’t like beets, you will love this recipe inspired by steakhouse creamed spinach.
If you have been tossing beet greens and their stems away, stop. Beet greens, like beets, get criticized as being bitter and strange, but in truth, they are tender in texture and mild in flavour. They taste similar to swiss chard and are a surprising twist to the usual spinach and kale.
When cooking beet greens, the secret is to barely wilt the leaves. You want them to be piping hot, but barely cooked.
The addition of turmeric, ginger, garlic, onion, and chilies provides complexity, while coconut milk and cream cheese add a delicate smoothness. Serve this aromatic creamed beet greens as an accompaniment to your favourite barbequed steak recipe.   

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• ½ onion, chopped
• 3 cloves of garlic, minced
• ½ inch piece of ginger, minced 
• 1 chili, mince 
• 1 lb. beet greens and stems
• 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard seed
• 2 teaspoons turmeric 
• 1 teaspoon ground garam masala 
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin 
• salt, pepper
• 1 tablespoon corn starch
• 1 cup full fat coconut milk
• 2 tablespoons cream cheese 
• ¼ cup of pickled beets, chopped    

In a large skillet heat olive oil. Sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, and the chili. Add the mustard seed, garam masala, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, and salt, and continue sautéing for a few minutes. Mix in the cornstarch to thicken. Next, add beet greens and wilt briefly. Add the cream cheese and the coconut milk, and stir just until the beet greens are warmed through. You want to cook the beet greens as little as possible so they don’t lose their colour. Put the beet green mixture in a blender and puree. If you are serving this dish immediately, pour into the serving bowl and top with pickled beets.

Jessie Lehail is the author of Indian Influence, a food blog that takes global eats and reinterprets them with a South Asian influence. Visit her blog at www.indianinfluence.ca.

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