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Beet Green Gratin with Golden Beet Crust
    Serves 4
    Isn’t it wonderful how beets and their bitter greens come together in one neat bunch. Golden beets are particularly sweet, and their greens are sturdy and tangy. This gratin is packed with the greens, enriched with egg, cheese, and milk, and encrusted, top and bottom, in a beautiful golden layer of sliced beets. It’s a gorgeous display of contrasting colors and rich flavors. If you roast your beets and blanch the greens when you get them home from the market, the gratin is quickly assembled.

Cook’s note: You can often get beet greens for free at farmers’ markets. Many shoppers ask the farmers to cut off the greens, and there is often a big box of them at the stalls that offer beets. If you don’t want to buy extra beets to get the extra greens called for in this recipe, ask the vendors if they have them, or watch for them cutting off the bunches for people.
2 bunches (6 to 8) golden beets
2 pounds golden beet greens (from about 4 large bunches), stemmed and washed
4 eggs, beaten
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 large garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
  freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Roast the beets. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Cut the greens off of the beets, leaving about 1/2 inch of the stems attached. Scrub the beets and place in a baking dish or oven-proof casserole. Add about 1/4 inch water to the pot. Cover tightly with a lid or foil, and bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the beets are tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the pot. If not using right away, refrigerate in a covered bowl.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you stem and wash the greens. Add a tablespoon of salt to the water, and add the greens to the boiling water (you will probably need to do this in two batches). Transfer the greens, after a minute or two, to a bowl of cold water, then drain and squeeze out the water. Chop coarsely.

3. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Oil a 2-quart gratin generously with olive oil. Slip the skins off the beets, and slice very thin across the equator. Line the bottom and sides of the gratin dish with sliced beets. Beat together the eggs, salt, pepper, milk, garlic, and all but 2 tablespoons of cheeses. Stir in the greens. Turn into the gratin dish. Cover the top of the gratin with the remaining beet slices, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese over the beets, and drizzle on the olive oil. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until set and lightly browned on the top. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serve hot or warm.

*Advance preparation: Roasted beets will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator in a covered bowl. The blanched greens will keep for 3 or 4 days in a covered bowl in the refrigerator. The baked gratin can be made a few hours ahead and reheated.

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