Don't throw away the leaves from your beets! Those beet greens are edible, easy to cook, and they're good for you!
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If you've ever bought fresh beets with the stems and leaves attached in the past and thought that it seems a shame to throw them out, well... that's because it is!
Are beet greens and stems edible?
Beet greens are 100% edible. Why wouldn't they be? And they are just about the easiest side dish you could ever wish for on a weeknight.
They cook up quickly in a skillet like spinach or swiss chard, or any other hearty green. Look at 'em! So pretty!
Sautéed Beet Greens with Garlic and Crushed Red Pepper
For my UK readers, you might call these beetroot leaves. Beet greens, beetroot leaves, it's all the same thing.
This is kind of a recipe without a recipe. It's going to depend on how many beets you bought and how tall the leaves are.
But no matter, we save all the seasoning for the end, so you can adjust to your taste and the amount of greens you have.
This recipe is vegan and gluten-free, but everyone at the table will love it!
How to cook beet greens
Oh, and guess what? We are eating the stems, too! Remove them from the beet leaves, then use a good chef's knife and chop them into a small dice.
Give the beet greens a rough chop.
Add olive oil to a skillet over medium heat, then add the beet stems and let them reduce down and start to get brown and crispy, about 5 - 7 minutes. Meanwhile, chop a few cloves of garlic.
I used my Lodge carbon steel skillet for this recipe because it's lightweight, cooks evenly, and it's nice and shallow so it can hold all of the mounds of raw greens.
Disclosure: am a part of the Lodge Cast Iron Blogging Partners Program. This skillet was provided to me free of charge by Lodge Cast Iron. All opinions are my own.
Add the garlic to the pan and sauté just until it becomes fragrant, about one minute.
Add the beet greens to the skillet and use tongs to keep moving the greens and garlic around. You don't want the garlic to get stuck on the bottom of the pan and burn.
Keep turning the greens, allowing them to wilt. I prefer to cook my beet greens until they have just wilted. I like them when they are heated through, but still have some heft and substance to them.
Once the greens have cooked down, season with salt and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. It's important to wait until the greens are cooked to salt them. Otherwise, you will have VERY salty beet greens.
They start out looking like you'll never be able to fit all of them in your pan, but you can just keep cookin' 'em until they shrink down to almost nothing. They are mostly water, after all.
This is why you wait to season them until the end. You don't need the same amount of salt for an overflowing skillet as you do a half skillet.
Are beet greens good for you?
Beet greens are really good for you. They are high in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, copper, manganese and potassium. They're also rich in calcium and low in calories. Enjoy them and feel good about it!
More beet recipes:
- Oven-Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese, Orange Vinaigrette, and Mint
- Roasted Vegetable Salad with Charred Lemon Vinaigrette
- 6 cups beet greens
- 3 cloves garlic
- pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- kosher salt
- Remove the stems from the beet leaves. Roughly chop the leaves, and finely dice the stems.
- Heat olive oil over medium in a large skillet
- Add beet greens and sauté until they are reduced in size and beginning to get brown and crisp, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add garlic and sauté just until fragrant, about one minute.
- Add all of the greens to the pan, turning frequently with tongs to keep the garlic from burning, until greens are wilted and cooked to your liking.
- Season with salt and crushed red pepper.
- This is really a use what you have kind of recipe. If you don't have 6 cups, cook them anyway, if you have more? Same. Adjust garlic to your liking and season with salt at the end and you're good!
- It's very important to wait until the beet greens are cooked down to salt them. They start out as a LOT in the pan, but they cook down so much. If you salt at the beginning, you will have greens that are way too salty to eat. Trust me, I've done it. Just give them a kiss of salt at the end.
- I used my Lodge carbon steel skillet for this recipe. It's lightweight and shallow, great for holding all the mounds of fresh greens and provides even heat.
- Once you add the greens to the pan, keep turning them with tongs, lifting what's on the bottom up to the top. This will keep your garlic from burning, and it will help the greens to cook down faster and more evenly.