Sauteed Beet Greens are a simple and delicious side dish that takes just a few minutes to make. Beet greens, which are the green part of the root crop, are similar to Swiss chard. The greens have a mild flavour and lend themselves perfectly to a simple saute in garlic and lemon.
Why You Shouldn't Throw Away Those Beet Greens
When you buy or grow beets, you are getting two veggies in one. The root of the beet, or beetroot, is delicious and you can use it in salads, like these: Beet Pistachio & Orange Salad, Roasted Beet and Apple Salad and Beet Salad with Grapefruit, Blue Cheese & Walnuts, among others. You can even use beetroot to make hummus: Roasted Beet Hummus.
And every time you cook with beets, you can save the greens to use in salads or to sautee as a side dish. Try making this Beet Soup and then using the greens to make this simple but delicious recipe for sauteed beet greens.
Besides being delicious, beet greens are incredibly good for you. They are very high in fibre and a good source of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Calcium, Vitamin C, and Iron, along with all kinds of minerals. Find out more: What are the benefits of eating beet greens?
Here's What You Need To Make This Recipe
Besides the beet tops, you need just a few ingredients to make sauteed beet greens and you probably have them in your kitchen already.
Beet tops and stems cut from two or three bunches of beets.
(About 1 pound of greens, or 4-5 cups) This is quite approximate due to different sizes of beets, but it's fine if there are more or less. It will also seem like a lot, but the leaves will reduce by quite a bit when you cook them.
Extra virgin olive oil.
Normally I wouldn't recommend extra virgin olive oil for sauteing or cooking, at all, because it has a low smoke point, and its delicate, fruity flavour gets lost in the cooking process. However, this recipe has such a brief cooking time that the oil doesn't get a chance to smoke. And the simplicity of this dish allows the extra virgin olive oil to shine. For that reason, use good quality oil.
Use fresh garlic, not garlic powder. You can mince the cloves yourself, or you can use jarred pre-minced garlic.
Lemon juice and zest.
Again, use a fresh lemon. Bottled lemon juice may have its place, but not here.
Salt, pepper, and a pinch of dried red pepper flakes.
You can skip the red pepper flakes, but the amount isn't enough to add noticeable heat. It does, however, enhance the dish.
And that's it!
How to Make This Recipe, Step By Step
The beet tops will need a thorough rinse to remove any sand or grit. Just put them in a colander and toss them around under running water. Shake them to remove as much water as possible. You can pat them dry with paper towel, or use a salad spinner.
We are using the stems as well as the leaves. Because the stems are tougher, they take a bit longer to cook, and they are cooked first. So the stems need to be separated from the leaves.
Everything gets chopped up
Cook the stems first in a small amount of water
Drain the stems and set aside. Heat the oil, garlic & spices in the pan
Add the beet leaves, and cook, tossing with tongs, until just wilted.
Remove from heat and add the cooked stems and lemon zest. Squeeze the lemon juice on and toss it all together.
Serve right away
What to Serve Your Greens With?
Sauteed Beet Greens are a perfect side dish served for any meal. They compliment chicken (Grilled Harissa Chicken Drumsticks), fish, (Grilled Asian Salmon Kebabs), beef, pork or even meatloaf (Turkey Cauliflower Meatloaf)
You can also have these greens with any vegetarian meal, tossed with some pasta, or topped with a poached egg.
Tips For Perfect Sauteed Beet Greens
- Start with the freshest greens possible. The leaves should be dark green with no signs of yellowing.
- Always pre-cook the stems.
- Use a good quality olive oil and a fresh lemon
- Zest the lemon before cutting it.
- When cooking the leaves, use thongs to keep tossing them so that they cook evenly.
- Be very careful not to overcook them. Take them off the heat when the leaves are just wilted.
Sautéed Beet Greens
- 2-3 bunches of beet tops About 4 cups, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 lemon juice and zest
- Thoroughly wash the beet tops with cold water to remove any dirt and debris
- Separate the stems from the beet leaves
- Cut the stems into one-inch pieces and roughly chop the leaves
- Put the stems into a skillet or wok and add enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until tender, (About 5 minutes)
- Drain the stems into a colander and set aside
- Add the oil to the pan and heat over medium heat until a drop of water thrown in sizzles
- Add garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes
- Cook, stirring for about a minute, until fragrant
- Add the beet leaves and, using thongs, toss until the leaves are coated in the oil and spices. Continue to toss until the leaves are just starting to wilt.
- Squeeze the juice of half the lemon over the leaves. Add the lemon zest, and toss to coat.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately with the remaining half lemon, sliced.