Poor beet greens. They get so little love. Or probably more realistically, they are misunderstood. Most of the time, they go straight from the grocery bag to the trash bag.
But beet greens are so much more than just leafy tops of beets. They come with such great potential that they give their famed roots a run for their money.
Beet greens are as versatile as your imagination will allow. They are great in soup – in making a cold borscht, I always add beet greens to the mix. They add a nice, chewy heft to the soft beets.
If you’re not a lover of borscht, you can blanch beet greens, and tuck them into your morning omelette (with some crumbled goat cheese); or make a tartine with a hardboiled egg, olive oil, beet greens, olive oil and some sea salt. I’ve been playing around with pasta, beet greens and anchovy bread crumbs – delicious. You can even add beet greens to whatever curries or stews you’re making. Perhaps where they lack in authenticity, they’ll make up for in texture and taste.
They can be a little (okay, a lot) gritty when you get them. Soak them in several changes of cold water (the cold water will also perk them up a bit). It’s a little fussy, but the fussy-ness is mostly hands-off, which to me passes as totally manageable. I tend to do a lot of this prep as soon as I get my groceries – if I postpone it, I never seem to get around to it. In some ways, prepping the beet greens makes me feel über-efficient; while the beet greens are soaking, I’m doing something else in the kitchen in the apartment, and I’m heating water for blanching. That’s three (three!) things that I’m doing at once.
If you can manage it, try to go with an organic beet. The amount of not-so-good for you chemicals, to put it mildly, that a conventional beet absorbs is mind-boggling. Sometimes, however, the only way to an organic beet is to get it at a grocery store, already de-greened. But at farmers’ markets, where beets are still holding court, they most certainly come with greens. Bright, firm, beautiful greens that will be a lovely addition to your pantry and a surprisingly delicious addition to your plate.
A few other ideas for beet greens:
* Tucked into a barley salad with some lemon juice, goat cheese, and scallion.
* Added to smoothies
* Stir-fried with fish sauce, ginger, and garlic. Served with steamed rice, a fried egg, and some Sriracha.
* Make a beet green crostini: spread good homemade ricotta, top with beet greens and an excellent anchovy.
* Tossed with sour cream, dill, garlic, and salt.
What are your favorite ways to cook with beet greens?