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Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Fork in the Road: Beet Greens,Tofu, and Brown Rice

I think of my cooking as healthy because I like to cook with farmers' market fresh ingredients, I don't make elaborate sauces, and I'm careful to minimize fat. But I do cook with eggs, cream, red meat, bread, and lots of pasta. My wife, Michelle, enjoys what I cook but she's looking for a bit of a change. She's decided to try a fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, no red meat, non-caffeine, sugar-free diet.

For me, cooking this way will require adjustments. I'll try my best to make meals that have flavor and keep to her diet. This is a little terra incognita to me and it would be nice to have some road maps. If you have any suggestions, please send them in.

Sautéed Beet Greens with Tofu and Brown Rice
Yield: 4
Time: 45 minutes


1 bunch farmers' market fresh beets
1 yellow onion (washed, peeled, roughly chopped)
5 garlic cloves (washed, peeled, roughly chopped)
1/2 pound mushrooms, brown, shiitake, or portabella (washed, roughly chopped)
1 tablespoon sweet butter (optional)
1 pound firm tofu
2 cups cooked brown rice
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper


Prepare the brown rice first. I use a Japanese rice cooker and the proportion is 1 cup rice to 1 1/2 cups water. Turn on the rice cooker. When the cooker shuts off, fluff the rice, and put the cover back on for 10 minutes.

When you buy the beets, pick out a bunch with fresh looking leaves. To prepare the beets, cut off the beet greens. Clean the beets and reserve to use raw or roasted in a salad.

Soak the greens in water to remove grit. Cut the stems from the leaves. Finely chop the stems and roughly chop the leaves.

On a medium-high flame, heat a large pan with olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and pepper. Sauté the beet green stems with the onions and garlic until they are lightly browned, then add the greens and cook until wilted. Stir frequently. Add the mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned. Add 1 cup water to deglaze the pan, reduce the flame and simmer 15 minutes.

Taste the greens to confirm that they are tender. At this moment I would add a pat of butter but that's entirely optional.

Pat dry the tofu and make 1" thick slabs, then cut the slabs into 1"x1" cubes. The tofu needs to be heated. That can be accomplished in a number of ways. Personally I like to lightly sauté tofu to add a bit more flavor. In a frying pan, heat olive oil and lightly brown the tofu pieces. If you'd like to avoid this step, the tofu can be heated in a microwave.

Add the tofu to the beet green sauté and gently toss together to coat the tofu with the sauce. Serve with the brown rice on the side.

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