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Root vegetables: the beet

January 30, 2010
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Beets are an oft-neglected vegetable–and shouldn’t be!  Both tops and bottoms are tasty, particularly when paired together.

Beets & stems

beautiful beets

Not as overwhelmingly earthy as chard, the greens and stems respond well to sautéing. Beet greens aren’t as delicate as spinach, so that worrying overcooked sliminess that spinach can sadly reach doesn’t happen. Beet stems are softer than chard stems, so they don’t require as much cooking before the greens.

Over the summer, I would bake sliced baby beets (thinner skin) or well-scrubbed sliced beets and toss them still hot with their greens and orange slices.  The heat wilted the greens slightly and the sweetness of the oranges played off of the sugars in the beets.

beets and greens

ruby gems

These beets I baked whole, since I don’t mind running the oven for an hour or so (check for fork-tenderness after half an hour, though), in olive oil and sea salt.

  • 1 bunch beets (3 large beets), with greens & stems
  • 3 Tbs olive oil + more for sautéing
  • 3 tsps coarse sea salt

Cut the stems & greens off of the beets; scrub beets well if, like me, you don’t plan on peeling them.  Wash stems & greens; remove thicker stems from leaves and chop into ¼ inch pieces. Lay the leaves one on top of another and roll into a fat beet green cigar. Chop the green cigar into one inch segments; this will give you long ribbons of greens. Set greens and stems aside.  Toss beets in olive oil and sea salt in a glass baking dish with a lid, or rub beets with as much oil is necessary  & salt and seal in tinfoil.  Bake beets at 400°F for 45-50 minutes, or until just fork tender. Mine were a wee bit overcooked since I was sidetracked by shaping my lentil & mushroom tarts.  Remember that after you remove them from the oven, they’ll continue to cook while the steam leaves the vegetable.

Beet quarters with green ribbons

a hearty vegetable side dish

Once the beets are baked, heat some olive oil (you won’t need much–less than a tablespoon) in a frying pan or shallow sauce pan.  Add the stems and sauté until soft, 2-3 minutes.  Add the cut beet greens and cook (it’s more like steaming than frying with a pile ‘o greens) until soft and wilted.

Cut beets into quarters.  Add to greens and stems.  Serve with lentil tarts, or dinner of you choice.

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