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This is a multi-faceted post β€” euphemistically speaking. Actually, it’s several threads that don’t really go together, but I’ll press on anyway.

My last post elicited several responses about using beet greens. Aside from the random commenter who admitted tossing the greens away (yikes) and only using the beet root, I also received 1 phone call, 3 emails and a scattering of real-time comments from friends who had no idea people actually ate the greens. I won’t mention any names, but one of you is a complete beet virgin, root and all.

I love all greens, but beet greens are a favorite because the texture is so delightful. For a post I did on the comparison of collard greens to rubber gloves, check here (recipe included). Don’t get me wrong, I love collard greens, kale and the other hearty greens, but beet greens are my favorite because they’re more delicate and the magenta and green colors add an artistic flair to your table.

I don’t do any advertising on this blog and for the most part, I don’t advocate anything other than healthy living, good food and friendship. Today I’m going to stray from that a bit and mention a cookbook I have, along with a beet green recipe from the book.

Every room in my house is full of books. Buying books is my downfall. I’m addicted, seriously addicted. Many of my books are cookbooks that I have never used. But this is a book I not only cook from, I read it in bed. It’s called Outstanding in the Field by Jim Denevan, whom I’ll admit, I have a mild crush on. But the book is worth drooling over, whether you ever cook from it or not.

If you don’t know who Jim Denevan is, take the time to watch this video. This is a table to farm cookbook, rather than the other way around. Jim is a surfer, artist, chef and visionary who brings his dinner guests to the food β€” right in the midst of the garden or field. You can’t get any fresher or more local than that.

From Outstanding in the Field
beet greens with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch beet greens (10 – 12 ounces)
4 tablespoons EVOO
Kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper

Wash beet greens. Remove stems and chop into a small dice. Coarsley chop the leaves and set them aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat. Add the chopped beet stems and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the stems are nearly tender, about 8 minutes. Push the beet stems to one side of the pan and add the garlic to the other side. Cook until fragrant but not brown, about 1 minute. Stir the garlic into the stems. Add the chopped beet leaves and season with salt. Stir in a splash of water and cook until the leaves are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and 3 tablespoons olive oil with a pinch of salt. Remove the pan from the heat, pour the dressing on top, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Pick your plate and be inspired!

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18 Responses to “zen and the art of surf, sand and fresh food”

  1. greedydave says:


    Ha! First of all I have to come clean and say that I read ‘EVOO’ and immediately thought, “great, another exotic American ingredient that I’m not going to be able to get hold of.” Three seconds later – cue the lightbult, cue the embarrassment. πŸ™‚

    I really enjoyed this film. It’s so good to see a young artist who is unquestionably devoted to his vision rather than creating shock-art in order to appeal to private collectors’ more-money-than-sense approach to art collecting. And devotion is the right word with seventy-five sittings of the ‘Outstanding in the Field’ installation to-date, just incredible. His sand drawings were mind-blowing also, especially the giant circles. Almost unbelievable that he drew those freehand.

    Delicious and simple recipe too. I’m just picturing a big bowl of it with a glass of crisp white wine, lovely!


  2. Melissa says:


    EVOO came from Rachel Ray, one of our way-too-chipper and somewhat-annoying Food Network Stars. She even has her own version of extra virgin olive oil, called (cue drum roll) EVOO. It was just easier to use the initials than write it out. I wasn’t trying to throw you off your game, I promise.

    Wasn’t that video interesting?! His cookbook is beautiful and he drives this huge vintage and very cool transportation bus to his locations. It’s his traveling warehouse I suppose. I’ve watched a few other videos of his sand art and he always whistles while working. His whistle is as artistic as everything else he does. Yes, he’s very interesting, that’s for sure.

    I’m afraid when Cid sees this, she may dump Ray Mears for Jim.


  3. Cid says:


    Ray who? πŸ™‚ This man Jim is amazing, I love his art in the sand…. when I meet him I shall wear my best hand dyed Juban to show we are kindred spirits πŸ™‚ I’m not so keen on the surfing thing… conversations punctuated by the tide have their limitations πŸ™‚ With such big tables surely it’s only a matter of time before our gang gets an invite? Yes Melissa, we’re going to have to add Jim to our list of charismatic mortals. Who else are you hiding away in that book collection I wonder …


    p.s. should I go with my contemporary square white china or my Victorian meat plate?

  4. Melissa says:


    Once again, I laughed out loud reading your comment. You are very clever!

    Well, if Jim is half as smart as his behavior seems to indicate (spatially gifted, artistically talented, athletically endowed, culinarily skilled), he will have you surfing in no time.

    Of course (are you listening GDave), I had to look up Juban, but now that I’ve been enlightened, I think a fish-inspired pattern with a touch of metallic brocade would make an alluring swim suit coverup. Then you could be off with your Victorian meat plate for dinner with Jim at the head table.

    I’ll join the rest of our gang at the colorful misfits table at the garden’s edge. I’m going with my vintage cobalt blue FiestaWare dinner plate. Do you think Miles would mind preparing the food?


  5. Anne says:

    Can I come dressed in my dirndl? I could also bring my mouthorgan along to accompany Jim’s wistle :). Well, I am not all that good with the mouthorgan and will let Jim take the lead!

  6. Melissa says:


    Of course! Cid and I expect you to join the group(ies). Your regional clothing choice will fit in nicely with Cid’s Asian theme and my — my — mishmash theme. Now, the important part; plate choice. We must have eye-catching plates. Maybe we should join those other women in the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Plates.”


  7. Cid says:


    The garden’s edge … that’s probably where they’ll put us, if not round the corner, behind a bush πŸ™‚ I like the sound of the sisterhood of the traveling plates, in fact I have a dresser full of odd plates that I’ve fallen for over the years, that and cups and saucers. Throwing a Mad Hatters tea party would be no problem…. something tells me Jim would feel at home with all of us. We mustn’t leave out table no. 5…. he’ll eat everything, tell witty stories and borrow a plate to take home any leftovers!

    In truth I suspect Jim will spot the women of the Lincolnshire/Golden branch of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Plates, all clutching over-sized Victorian/Fiestaware vintage meat plates, some playing the mouthorgan, some dressed as Geisha… and head straight for the beach for a breath of fresh air and contemplate the exact ingredients of the mushroom dish GDave cooked up for him the day before πŸ™‚

    I have worked along side a sculpture artist some years back, he too could turn his talent to many forms of craft. We learned how to make stained glass windows with him, others worked with wood and mosaic. These people touch our lives with beauty and inspire. This blog is a work of art Melissa and it certainly enriches our lives with the written word and fabulous photographs.


  8. Anne says:

    I love it “Sisterhood of the Travelling Plates”. I have a lovely decorated german one, about 30″ (it usually holds my big cakes). I think I take that – not that I am greedy, you understand. I just appreciate good food! Will travel – have plate :).

  9. Melissa says:


    I remember you mentioning the odd cup and saucer, I love that. I also have mismatched dishes, an assembly of colors, patterns and shapes. Much more fun, don’t you agree?

    Table number 5, the mystery man? He can serenade the guests in between courses.

    You certainly have a diverse set of interests, makes for a delightfully quirky personality. Thank you for the kind sentiments, I really do appreciate it.

    My part in this blog being a “work of art” is simply providing the canvas for everything and everyone else. I drag the first line in the sand, that’s all.


  10. Cid says:


    I had beet leaves tonight cooked a la ‘outstanding in the field’… highly recommended. What a vision of freshness they were and I shall certainly cook them again.

    I drag the first line in the sand, that’s all …. love that poetic phrase.


  11. Great post, Melissa. I’m agreeing with Cid on the fabulous merits of your blog–always zen just to come here. πŸ˜‰

    I’m a huge fan of CBS Sunday Morning, watching it every Sunday (at the appointed time or via recording). So, I remember this segment even thought Jim’s name didn’t stick out to me. Interestingly enough, I remembered the traveling plates and the meals more than I remembered his fabulous sand art. We all should share meals like those–I’m in! I’ll use a piece of my Lennox Winter Greetings everyday stoneware (the tufted titmouse on a medium-sized plate) … if I’m invited that is. πŸ˜‰

    Now about those beet greens … I’m totally a virgin. Now you’ve been appalled at people throwing away their beet greens. Silly question, but do I have to buy the complete beet to get the greens. I can see me eating the greens per your recipe, but not the beets …

    I can’t bring myself to use that RR acronym … LOL


  12. Melissa says:

    Alright ladies — I think all this hot talk of surfers, farmers and chefs sizzled my database server’s IP tables (whatever that means) and shut down my blog. I had no access most of the day. And right when we were choosing plates and discussing clothing options for our picnic!

    I have no idea what happened or why the meltdown, but if you tried to access my blog and were rejected, I’m sorry. My wonderful tech guy fixed everything and we can get back to zen and the art of plates and food gossip.


  13. Melissa says:


    A turkey platter, that’s what we need!

    Will travel – have plate. I absolutely LOVE that. Very good!

    If we’re going to be the “sisterhood of the traveling plates,” we need an escort. Or more like a chaperone. GDave, are you available?


  14. Melissa says:


    It’s a given that you are joining us! The more, the merrier. You’re the beet virgin, you definitely need to be part of this journey. And yes, you have to buy the whole beet to get the greens. Both parts are wonderful. You just don’t know that yet. Give me some time, give me some time. Soon you’ll be eating all kinds of oddities.


    Your plate sounds perfect, now all you need is an offbeat outfit and you will fit in just fine.

  15. Cid says:


    I had some left over cooked beetroot greenery last night so I put it aside in the fridge. Today I boiled some potatoes, mashed them with seasoning and a little butter, stirred in the greens… let cool. Form into burger sized disks, coat lightly in flour and fry in a tablespoon or so of EVOO or the oil of your choice.. cook until golden and serve with sweet chilli sauce or fish or cold meat etc. Otherwise known in the UK as Bubble & Squeak (this is the pink version!)

    Those beet greens are a fabulous thing. Just one small bunch has been turned into four different dishes. I will always look for the freshest beet greens I can find since you introduced us to this vegetable… another winner.


  16. Michelle Houston says:

    neat video. Thanks for sharing. Have you seen Jerry Spencer is doing somewhat similar stuff here with the local farms. I understand your rhapsodies about your coop. I feel the same way about mine! One advantage we have here is year-around gardening, but of course we miss your spectacular mountains.

  17. Melissa says:


    Wow, what a good idea. Hmmm? I’m thinking of an alternative flour to go with your “bubble & squeak” — maybe amaranth or quinoa. Or even a blend with a nut flour. It sounds wonderful. The pink part is the one thing you can’t avoid when working with beets. It’s a bit of a “girlie” vegetable.

    I’m glad you’re finding fresh versions. They really don’t last all that long, so fresh picked it best.

    Thanks, Cid. I always value your input!


  18. Melissa says:


    Thanks for that link. Urban gardening is really taking hold all across the country. I love it, although my garden is wimpy in comparison! Glad I have my CSA farmers so close. I’m glad people are taking food into their own hands and providing healthy, local produce. When does that Jerry Spencer guy ever sleep?! Twenty-hour days! Yikes — that’s one committed man! Thanks for passing along the link. I appreciate it.


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