African-Style Beet Greens

Like Indian saag or any of the greens soups you’ll find on my site – dishes of finely chopped, mushed or creamed greens will never win prizes for appearance.  My partner won’t eat them, regardless of how good it smells in the house, based solely on the aesthetic.  That said, for the initiated (or maybe just for me), greens have a very special place in the heart.  They’re comfort food, usually quite simple to prepare, and they sustain while packing a veritable nutritional punch.  They’re also what’s most plentiful in the freezer at the end of the winter season – packed at the height of their beauty the summer before.  This particular recipe is adapted from the spinach stew in Angela Shelf Medearis’ The Ethnic Vegetarian: Traditional and Modern Recipes from Africa, America, and the Caribbean.

Yield: 8 cups

What you need:

  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, divided
  • 4 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 3 small onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted tomato paste (home-made preferred)
  • 1-1/2 lb frozen beet greens, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cooked potato, diced, to serve (optional)
  • avocado, diced, to serve (optional)

What you do:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot or pressure cooker over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and stir and fry until soft and browning around the edges, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add 3/4 cup of the pumpkin seeds, the broth, tomato paste, beet greens and cayenne.   Bring to a boil, lower heat and then cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes until very soft.  Alternatively, bring to pressure in a pressure cooker and cook 11 minutes, allowing the pressure to release naturally or using a quick-release.
  3. Uncover, add the remaining 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds and the salt.  Mix and use an immersion (stick) blender to purée the mixture, leaving some texture.
  4. Serve a generous portion over a bed of diced potato and top with some avocado.  If that’s not so much your thing – then serving over rice or slathering the mix into a sandwich also works!

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