Monday, July 11, 2011

A Couple of Salads with Bietola Greens

The last couple of Sundays, SLO Farm  has offered these lovely greens called Bietola a Costa Fine. A delicacy of Tuscany, they are called a chard, although the plant actually belongs to the beet family. You could cook them like chard, for example in a tart, but they are also delicious raw. In fact, they are my new favorite salad green. They have the brightness and heartiness of spinach, but with a milder aftertaste. 

And they are much easier to deal with than a jumbled bunch of spinach. Simply wash them, shake them dry, and then stack the leaves and slices them into neat ribbons.

I first paired them with some of SLO Farm's delicious plump sugar snap peas

and tossed them in a lemony tahini dressing, as a vegan accompaniment to falafels. The next evening I swung the other direction with an carnivore-friendly salad of bietola leaves, apple slices, bacon bits, and scallions tamed in bacon drippings. Really you can't go wrong with these delicious greens.

Bietola Salad with Snap Peas and Lemony Tahini Dressing

1 bunch bietola
1 large handful sugar snap peas
A handful of chives or the green part of one scallion
1 lemon
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp tahini paste
salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse the bietola leaves. Lay flat and slice the leaves in ¼ inch strips perpendicular to the stem. Rinse and stem the sugar snap peas and chop into ½ inch pieces.

2. Prepare the dressing in a food processor or mini chopper. Combine zest and juice from the lemon with the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

3. Toss the bietola leaves and snap peas in the dressing to coat. Serves 4 as a side salad or you could serve as 2 entrée salads topped with falafel balls.

Bietola Salad with Apples, Scallions, and Bacon

1 bunch bietola
1 crunchy apple
1 large or two normal sized scallions
2 slices of bacon
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp neutral oil such as grape seed

1. Rinse the bietola leaves. Lay flat and slice the leaves in ¼ inch strips perpendicular to the stem. Core and cut the apple into thin slices. Place in a salad bowl.

2. Whisk together the vinegar, oil, and pepper, pour over the bietola and apples and toss to coat. 

3. Cook the bacon until crisp and drain on a paper towel. Cut the white and pale green part of the scallions into thin disks and cook briefly in the bacon fat. Scoop the scallions onto the bietola and apples, along with a little of the bacon drippings (you made a very lean dressing). Crumble over the bacon. Toss and serve. Serves 4 as a side salad or you could serve as 2 entrée salads topped with a poached egg.

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