The beets are coming along fast in the garden now (I LOVE summer!) so last night seemed like a good time to haul out an old basic recipe that gives you your root vegetable and greens all inna dish!

Yank a dozen beets while they're still fairly small (golf-ball size). Cut off the beets, wash and trim, reserving the leaves. Peel the beets and cut them into thin (1/4 inch) slices. Take the leaves, discarding any that seem overly large and tough, remove the stems, and wash the leaves very well, as you'd do with spinach.

Put the sliced raw beets, along with any juice that's seemed out of them, in the bottom of a heavy saucepan. Add about a tablespoon of butter and salt and pepper to taste, then jam into the same pot all the washed beet greens, and top with a bit more butter, salt and pepper. The greens should have had enough water clinging to them to add all the moisture needed to the pan, but if it seems a little dry, add a couple of tablespoons H2O to keep the beets from sticking.

Cover the pan tightly and turn up the heat until you hear the contents simmering. Then turn it down and let it go for 10 minutes or so, stirring down the greens occasionally as they wilt. Serve as soon as the beets are crisp- tender and the leaves wilted, which should all happen at about the same time; letting it go a couple of minutes over isn't critical.

Serve, watching out for beet-juice stains.

This made the bulk of our meal last night, along with a thick slice of ham browned on the grill and a few petit pain rolls from the grocery.

Went great with an earthy Alsace Pinot Blanc, but it would have gone equally well, or maybe even better, with a sweet, dark beer like Anchor Porter.

A couple of footnotes on beet preparation: Although this procedure requires peeling them raw, it's generally MUCH easier to handle beets by simmering or steaming them until done and THEN peeling, when the skins will usually just rub right off under running water. Also, if you ever have occasion to roast beets (in the oven or wrapped in foil on the grill), this alternative really makes 'em flavorful.