Georgian Beet Green Pkhali are a traditional dish made with finely chopped beet greens, walnuts, garlic and herbs. Spinach Pkhali was one of the first Georgian dishes I tried when our Georgian friend invited us out for Georgian New Year a number of years ago. That evening remains fixed in my memory as everything we ate that night was completely new and different from anything I’d ever experienced.
Georgian cuisine uses a lot of walnuts. Walnuts are finely chopped and mixed into many dishes, including pkhali. Pkhali can be made into little balls, which make a fun presentation, or it can be stuffed into vegetables, or served as a dip.
Pkhali is often made with spinach, but it is also made with cabbage, cabbage, beets or eggplant. Almost any vegetable will work, so it’s a great way to use fresh produce that’s in season.
I found fresh beets at the farmer’s market and decided to use the beet greens to make pkhali, and make a pretty presentation of beet green pkhali balls on roasted beet slices.
Our Georgian friend was very pleasantly surprised when I served these Georgian beet green pkhali at our house for his birthday. I even made pickles out of the beet stems to decorate the tops.
These make great party food, and are a wonderful way to introduce guests to Georgian cuisine, which seems to have come on the food scene more recently. Georgian food is very clean, healthy, and focuses on using fresh ingredients. Fresh herbs are often used, including lots of cilantro.
Georgian Beet Green Pkhali
- 1 bunch beets with greens
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 bunch cilantro
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- sea salt to taste
Pickled Beet Stems
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 8 black peppercorns
- 4 juniper berries
- 2 allspice berries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut beet greens from beetroots. Wash beets and beet greens well. Trim beet stems from beet greens and set aside for Pickled Beet Stems (below).
Trim beetroots on both ends. Place on foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with foil. Roast in oven for one hour or until a knife can be easily inserted and removed. Let cool. Scrape off skin. Slice into thin rounds.
Pickled Beet Stems
Cut reserved beet stems into 1/4" pieces. Place water, red wine, vinegar, salt, sugar, peppercorns, juniper berries and allspice berries in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add beet stem pieces and turn off heat. Let cool to room temperature.
Blanch beet greens for 30 seconds. Remove to bowl filled with ice and water to stop cooking process. Once cool, remove and squeeze dry.
Place walnuts, garlic, oil, cilantro, lemon juice, pepper and salt in food processor. Pulse until finely chopped (do not puree). Add cooked beet greens and pulse until finely chopped. Season to taste with salt.
Scoop out round tablespoons of mixture and roll into balls. Arrange on top of cooked beet rounds. Top with pickled beet stems.
Adapted from Kachka A Return To Russian Cooking, by Bonnie Frumkin Morales
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