It’s the beginning of June, our early spring planting has already been half eaten now, and our summer crops have been planted. There are still some beets growing, lettuces we have not harvested yet, and kale we are carefully harvesting the outer leaves of as the centers grow out again and again.
The beets, and their greens, are perfect now. And while roasting beets is a no-brainer, tossing the greens feels like a sin. Using the greens may demand a bit more creativity, but do not fear, you can pretty much use them as you would other sturdy garden greens. Gathered below are some different approaches to using the beet green with these 5 beet greens recipes.
Nutrition of Beets and Their Greens
Before we check out our top 5 ideas on using beet greens, let’s take a moment to appreciate how nutritious beets and their greens are. Beets are highly nutritious root vegetables that offer a range of beneficial nutrients. Here are some key nutritional components of beets:
- Fiber: Beets are a good source of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and helps maintain bowel regularity.
- Vitamins: Beets are rich in various vitamins, including vitamin C, folate (vitamin B9), and vitamin B6. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports the immune system and helps the body absorb iron. Folate is essential for cell growth and development, particularly during pregnancy. Vitamin B6 plays a role in brain development and function.
- Minerals: Beets contain several essential minerals, including potassium, manganese, and iron. Potassium is important for maintaining proper nerve and muscle function, as well as regulating blood pressure. Manganese is involved in bone health and metabolism. Iron is crucial for the formation of red blood cells and oxygen transport in the body.
- Nitrates: Beets are known for their high nitrate content. Nitrates can be converted into nitric oxide, a compound that helps widen blood vessels, improving blood flow and potentially benefiting cardiovascular health.
- Antioxidants: Beets are rich in antioxidants, such as betalains and betacyanins, which give them their vibrant red color. Antioxidants help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and may have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Low in calories: Beets are relatively low in calories while providing a good amount of nutrients, making them a nutritious addition to a balanced diet.
Beet greens (the leafy tops of the beetroot) are also highly nutritious, containing similar vitamins and minerals, as well as additional antioxidants and fiber.
1. Beet Greens Smoothie
A smoothie is the first method that personally comes to mind in terms of a direction to go with your beet greens preparation. It allows you to counteract any bitter greens concerns you may have with frozen fruits as you sneak your greens by your palate. Great for kids and supertasters alike, it is also one of the fastest and easiest ways to prepare your beet greens, and creates the least amount of mess.
I like this recipe from Christy of Feasting Not Fasting, as it includes a healthy fat source (avocado) that lends creaminess and satiety and beta carotene rich mango. I’d suggest adding a protein powder of your choosing to round out all of the major macronutrients and call it a meal.
2. Beet Greens Pesto
You’re familiar with pesto made with basil, but why not try it with your beet greens? April of Girl Gone Gourmet has a great recipe to give a whirl in your Cuisinart at https://www.girlgonegourmet.com/beet-tops-pesto/ .
Once made, pesto can be frozen into cubes in an ice cube tray for up to a few months or stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. A few ways you may try using your pesto:
- Toss it with pasta, hot or cold
- Use it in place of tomato sauce for a pizza
- Try it on a sandwich as a condiment
3. Blanched Beet Greens with Garlic, Olive Oil, Lemon, and Red Pepper Flakes
Now, many may say sauteing the beet greens would be the first way to prepare them that comes to mind. I found a great little recipe to do that in #4. But, my husband would likely do it this way, where you blanch the beet greens rather than sauteing them. This preserves their vibrant color.
4. Sauteed Beet Greens
For some reason blanching things kind of stresses me out. I’m sure I just need to practice more to gain confidence and a sense of how much time in the boiling water is just right. But I prefer sauteing. It’s just easier in my mind. Jeanine and Jack of Love and Lemons jazz them up with walnuts, garlic, golden raisins, and lemon with olive oil. It’s a winning recipe.
5. Crispy Baked Beet Green Chips
Last but not least, and perhaps the most delightful to the senses, we have beet green chips! You’ve seen kale chips, why not with beet greens? Todd and Diane nail the recipe and have a great gardening tip: you don’t have to wait till you harvest the beets to use the greens. While the beets are still growing you can pluck off some of the greens, for any of these beet greens recipes!
So don’t let the bunch of greens atop your beets from your yard, grocer, or the farmer’s market or CSA go to waste. Try some of these beet greens recipes out!