BEETS & GREENS SIDE DISH

This recipe makes a presentation fancy enough for company, and so pretty even kids who think they don't like beets may eat it.

Buy some fresh beets with nice green tops. About 3 big beets (almost tennis ball size) will fill a large frying pan when combined with the greens. Cut the leaves and root tail off and peel the beets. Rinse, then put them whole in a pan, cover with water, and boil until you can stick a fork through the thick part. (Wipe up any beet juice that gets on your counter because it stains, and don't do this wearing anything fancy.) Meanwhile, wash the greens, throw out any bad parts, and cut them all in strips across their red ribs. Put them in a large frying pan with some water to cover and simmer until they are wilted.

When the greens are soft, drain the water and add some olive (or other) oil to cover the bottom of the pan and coat the leaves (they will get shiny). Gently continue to simmer / saute them in the oil, just keeping them hot. Meanwhile, when the beets are soft, take them out of the water and slice them, cutting the slices so you have 1/2" to 1" cubes.

Transfer the greens into a "ring" around the edges of the pan, or a casserole dish, making a "hole" in the center. Pile the beet cubes up in the center "hole." Sprinkle a little salt (optional) and drizzle a little more olive oil on the beet cubes if you like. Serve.

Don't make this dish ahead because the beets will overpower the greens' color and while they will taste fine, of course, the greens will be "reds" by the next day.

Oh, and save the beet water. When cold, you can add a little lemon juice, a little salt, and a perhaps a spoon of sour cream -- it will be a mild borsht -- and drink it. Traditional borsht has shredded beet in it, so if you have cooked an overabundance of beets just shred one on your large-size grater after it is cooked, and add to the water for later.

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