Wild Rice and Beet Greens in a Sri Lankan Style

Last weekend marked the final harvest of beets and with it, a bumper crop of beet greens and stems to process.  Rather than simply wilt them and freeze like I’ve been doing for the past two years, this year the plan is to cook it into ready-to-eat meals from the get-go.

As usually happens in the kitchen, I start with a recipe (in this case one for Mallum from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian) and then change it based on what’s on-hand in the fridge and from the garden.  Given the volume of vegetable that was available – the yield of the original test run was pretty ridiculous: about 12 cups.  Fear not though, the post has been halved to produce a more reasonable amount of food: 6 generous cups or enough to feed 4 hungry people when you pair the serving with a couple of strips of grilled tempeh.  It would also make a great stuffing for peppers, squash, or any other vegetable you can core the innards out of.

Yield: 6 generous cups

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 7 fresh curry leaves (optional but recommended)
  • 2 cups onions, halved and sliced into thin half-moons
  • 2 cups finely sliced beet stems
  • 1 fresh green chile, sliced into fine rings
  • 1 pound of beet greens sliced into fine shreds; 7 packed cups
  • 2 cups cooked and cooled wild rice (leftovers rice is perfect here, and if you don’t have wild rice ready, then any rice or cooked grain you do have bouncing around the fridge will work)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 cup finely grated unsweetened coconut

What you do:

  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot or pan (wide surface area is the aim, all the better to eventually wilt your greens in).  When hot, add the curry leaves, onion, beet stems and green chile.           DSCN1642
  2. Stir and fry until the beet stems release their moisture, everything cooks down some, and the onions begin to brown around the edges.  At this point it will want to start sticking to the bottom.
  3. Add the greens and salt and stir to wilt.  If necessary, a tablespoon of water can be added, but the greens themselves usually provide sufficient liquid to get the job done.  Cover, turn the heat down to low, and cook until the greens are tender – 5 to 10 minutes depending on age.
  4. Uncover, add the cooked wild rice and coconut and stir once more.  Remove from heat.                                          DSCN1645
  5. Serve.

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