I like browsing through recipes online, especially Russian and Ukrainian ones where I sometimes derive comfort from finding old favorites and often learn something new. That’s how one day I came across Mangold Salad. It looked interesting, so I googled it – in English. According to Wikipedia, it was simply Swiss chard. Back to the Russian site: on the photo, it looks somewhat similar, yet still different, but very familiar.
Wait a minute, but I use it all the time – it’s beet greens! Sure enough, several sources mention that mangold, AKA mangel, or mangelwurzel, is fodder beet, cultivated as stockfeed. Doesn’t sound very appetizing until you realize that they are talking about wurzel, or the root part of it, not the leaves. The Romans, who, among many other things, such as roads and aqueducts, also invented salads, loved the leaves and disregarded the root. In fact, the plant was called Beta Romana and cultivated for the leaves that also have important medicinal properties. And yes, Swiss chard is a close cousin to it!
So on my next trip to my favorite farm store, I got a healthy bunch of beet leaves – pardon me, Mangold. Now, other than a cold red borsht (for a recipe, click here) or a salad (please click here), what could I do with it? Looking through a few more sites, I couldn’t find anything more substantial. However, I had gluten free penne pasta that needed livening up! Adding greens to it, plus some garlic, parsley, cumin and paprika, and of course salt and pepper, looked like a solution.
I iced and salted my greens (for instructions on treating herbs and leafy greens, please click here) and cooked the pasta. Greens all rinsed and patted dry, I cut them into bite size pieces. In most recipes, they recommend separating leaves form stalks, cooking them separately, and using them for different purposes. I like the contrast of soft leaves with crunchy stalks, so I stir-fry them together. This is when I add squeezed garlic, as well as all my spices and seasoning. It takes literally a couple of minutes for the leaves to wilt and the stalks to soften Do not overcook!
Now, just dump it on top of pasta, add chopped fresh parsley, and mix it up. If it feels dry, add a splash of olive oil.
This is a healthy, delicious, and very easy vegan main course, but it could also serve as a side or enjoyed cold, as a salad. And, according to the Romans and confirmed by modern research, mangold helps you lose weight. Feel like a Roman!
- 2 loose cups of fresh mangold (beet greens)
- 2 cups of gluten free pasta, cooked (alternative: multi-grain or whole wheat pasta)
- 2 – 3 garlic cloves, squeezed
- 1/2 cup fresh roughly chopped parsley and more for garnish
- A dash of cumin
- A dash of paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- A splash of olive oil, if needed
- Ice and salt greens. Put aside.
- Cook pasta according to directions.
- Rinse greens, pat dry. Cut into bite-size pieces.
- Stir fry greens. Add squeezed garlic, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Greens are done when leaves are slightly wilted and stalks could be pierced with a fork.
- Add greens to pasta, top with chopped parsley, mix thoroughly.
- Serve garnished with parsley sprigs.
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