Raw beets

Beets and Their Greens

It’s almost embarrassing to print a recipe for this, but it’s one of those extremely simple things that people are often surprised by and usually like. And I didn’t know, until I first had it in Greece, that those greens at the top of your bunch of beets are edible and delicious. Nothing more than boiled beets and their greens, tossed in olive oil with a little salt, this is one of those great foods that are healthy, tasty, and inexpensive. This can be served warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

  1. Cut the beets away from the greens at the stem, clean or cut away any dirt, and wash them. Cut away the bottom part of the stem and if the stems are long, cut them away from the leaves. Wash the greens and separate out any of the smaller, more delicate leaves.
  2. Put the beets in a pan, cover with cold water, salt it, bring the water to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and let the beets cook until they can be pierced easily with a sharp knife. Cooking times will vary, but five or ten minutes before you pull the beets you can toss the stems in, and then, a few minutes later add the greens, reserving the small leaves until a couple minutes before the end. This is a pretty forgiving dish, but if you’re a new cook, you could cook the greens separately in salted boiling water, or pull them out with a pair of tongs if they cook before the beets are done. Keeping an eye on them and tasting is pretty important here. Above all, you want the greens to be completely cooked without being mushy—nothing al dente about them.
  3. Drain the beets and their greens/stems. Put the greens/stems in a bowl and as soon as you can handle the beets, peel off the skins and slice them into the bowl with the greens. Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat, add salt, mix it. Taste it. Add more oil or salt if needed.
Beets cooked Greek-style


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