Did you know you can eat beetroot tops and leaves? Use them much as you would any other leafy green.
Think twice before you toss the leaves growing from your beets. Beet greens are sweet, mild, and cook up into the silkiest, most tender greens you’ll ever eat.
What Are Beet Greens?
Firstly, you might be wondering, what exactly are beet greens? Beet greens are the leafy tops grown on beetroot plants. The beetroot bulbs form and grow under the ground, supported by beet stalks and leaves. The beet leaves are necessary to soak in the sun’s rays for the energy needed to grow the beetroot plant. And without the leaves, a beetroot will fail to grow.
You may have come across micro beet greens widely used in restaurants as a garnish. The baby-grown beet greens are desirable because they are soft and sweeter than older leaves. And they look impressive on a plate! But micro beet greens are not the only way you can eat beetroot leaves.
Can You Eat Beet Greens?
Beet greens are edible and delicious! And beetroot leaves are highly nutritious so they’re great for you. In fact, the leafy tops of beetroots are said to be even better for you than the beet itself, which is also extremely good for you.
Can You Eat Beet Greens Raw?
Beet greens can be eaten raw as well as cooked, making them a versatile vegetable to eat. You can add beet greens raw to salads or include them in a smoothie.
Selecting young and tender beet greens for eating raw will have the sweetest flavor.
Rest assured, beet leaves are not poisonous or toxic to eat raw. They are healthy and very good for you.
What Do Beet Greens Taste Like?
The taste of beet greens is a little like Swiss chard, spinach, and many other leafy greens. They have a mild flavor so they are sweeter than kale.
Older beet greens can sometimes become a little bitter, though the cooking process mellows it to the point of removal. Additional flavors such as onion, olive oil, and garlic during the cooking process also bring out the sweet flavor.
Young and baby beet leaves are milder and sweeter than the older leaves making them perfect for eating raw.
Storing Beet Greens
Beet greens are best used fresh but can be stored in the fridge for around 3-4 days.
There are numerous ways to help keep leafy greens fresh in the refrigerator. They include washing and drying the leaves thoroughly, wrapping the stalk ends in a paper towel, and then placing the bunch of leafy greens in a plastic bag in the crisper. The paper towel could be substituted with a tea towel.
The idea is to keep the greens dry and cool. Instead of a plastic bag, you can use an air-tight container lined with a tea towel or paper towel.
And plan to use your beet leaves in the next couple of days for the freshest tasting results.
Can You freeze Raw Beet Greens?
A fantastic way to preserve your beet greens is to freeze them. But can you freeze raw beet greens?
The recommended way to freeze beet greens is to blanch them first. However, you don’t have to. If you plan to use your beet greens in the next 4-6 weeks, you can simply wash them, dry them off, place them in a freezer bag and pop them in the freezer. Then you can cook them in any number of recipes including stews and soups.
It’s best to separate the stalks from the leaves because both the blanching and cooking times will vary for these two parts of the plant. So stripe off the leaves from the stalks prior to freezing above and prior to blanching below.
To freeze beet greens that will last a longer 8-12 months in the freezer, it is best to blanch them for 2-3 minutes, rinse in cold water, strain off excess water, cool and then place them in freezer bags into the freezer.
Keep in mind, frozen beet greens shouldn’t be used in a fresh salad as they’ll be wilted and a bit sad looking but they can be used sucessfully in a smoothie and they’ll be delicious cooked.
Beet greens can be cooked in many dishes, including soups, stews, and stir-fries to name a few. One of the simplest ways to cook up beet leaves is to braise or sauté them. Here’s how.
- Start by washing the beet greens well.
- Then remove the leaves from the stalks but hold on to them because we are cooking the stalks too. It’s easy to separate the stalks from the leaves by either gently running your hand down the stalk while pulling off the leaf or cutting the leaf off on either side of the stalk with a knife.
- Next, finely chop up the beet stalks and pop them in a pan over medium heat with some olive oil. For additional flavor, you can prior to this, gently cook a finely diced onion and some garlic. I like to add a little water at this point to help give the pan moisture without additional oil which will help to gently fry the stalks without sticking to the pan.
- Cook the beet stalks for 3-5 minutes to soften them and then add in the chopped beet greens. An additional splash of water may be needed if the water evaporates.
- Cook for a further 2 minutes or until the beet greens have wilted.
And that’s the easiest way to cook a yummy side dish of sautéed beet greens!
Along with the onion and garlic, you can also include some flavors such as parmesan cheese for a creamy dish and a squeeze of lemon for some tang. Another delicious variation is to top the sauteed beet greens with feta and nuts. Try pine nuts or walnuts.
Beet Greens Recipe Ideas
Now that you have a great idea of how to eat beet greens and how to cook with them, you might like to try some exciting recipes using these tasty leaves.
Sourdough Stuffed Beet Leaf Rolls – from Dish n the Kitchen. The Ukrainian beet leaf rolls, also known as beetnikes, are filled with bread and topped with a dill sauce. This recipe is a twist on the traditional with the use of sourdough.
Beetroot Leaf Borani – from Tom Hunt. This beetroot leaf dip uses both the leaves and stalks of the beet and turns them into a delicious dip you can serve with pita bread or veggie sticks.
Beet Greens Vegetable Soup – from Everyday Healthy Recipes. This heartwarming vegetable soup uses a variety of fresh veg including the leaves from four beetroots.
Crispy Baked Beet Green Chips – from White on Rice Couple. Most of us have heard of kale chips but did you know you could make chips from beet greens?
And If you’re interested in how to make kale chips, we have a section in our article on growing kale here.
Beet Greens Frittata – from NYT Cooking. A simple and delicious frittata recipe using beet greens and stems.
Beet Greens Gratin – from Food Network. Fresh beet leaves are combined with mushrooms, eggs, and ricotta for a very tasty bake.
Fermented Beet Green Kimchi – from Rebooted Mom. A great twist on a classic kimchi. This spicy ferment includes beet greens, ginger, onions, and chiles.
Beet Green Lasagna – from Stone Barns Center. The ultimate comfort food gets a healthy twist with the addition of beet greens.
Beet Green Hand Pies – from Tap Root Farm. These delicious hand pies make fantastic use of beet greens along with dehydrated tomatoes, roasted peppers, and goat’s cheese.
Creamy Parmesan Risotto with Beet Greens – from Katie’s Cucina. This recipe combines balsamic vinegar with beet greens to complement the deliciously creamy rice risotto.