Super Easy Garlicky Beet Green Sauté
I adore beets and beet greens!
When I first met my husband he couldn't abide beets. Then I discovered that the only one's he'd ever had were canned.
Well no wonder! While fresh home-canned can be delicious, all the commercially canned ones I've ever tried have been not-so-good. I roasted myself a beet, let him try a taste and turned him into a beet lover! Now when I bring home beets he screams "Yum!"
I like to grow them in my garden, but it's early yet. It's spring and I'm craving greens, And iron! So I found found a gorgeous bunch of beets at my local grocery. With the green still on and looking crisp and fresh!
The place I most often shop is a little Spanish-American store within walking distance of my house. I get exercise on the way, and get to support a local Mom & Pop business. Besides, their produce is always super fresh! And the cashier there knew enough to wrap up the greens so they wouldn't get harmed or dried out. It pays to shop where the folks know how their customers are cooking.
This recipe is garlicky good and has a dash of citrus to brighten it.
Why You Should Eat Your Greens
Beet greens are mineral rich (iron, zinc, calcium and phosphorus among others) and packed full of antioxidants which contribute to cell health.
They're high in vitamin C which is vital to creating collagen. They're super high in vitamin A, which aids both eye health and the immune system.
The chart below is based on just 1 cup of raw beet greens (about half of what I'd suggest for a single portion).
I only listed the highest concentrations of vitamins and minerals. Beets have numerous others that I didn't add to the chart.
Beet Green Nutrition
What it does for you
immune & inflammatory systems, eye health, necessary for reproduction
promotes collagen, prevents free radicals, produces seratonin (regulates moods & sleep cycles, nervous, endocrine and immune systems)
promotes collagen, bone production, prevents UV damage & skin rashes, controls blood sugar, protects vs. free radicals
balances nervous system, controls blood sugar & inflammation, bone integrity, balances nervous system, helps cells produce energy
transports oxygen, supports muscle metabolism & calorie burning
bone health integrity, balances blood PH, regulates muscle & nerve function
bone & tissue integrity, antioxidants, balances cholesterol, helps blood cells absorb iron, helps cell energy production
Add Even More Iron to Your Diet by Cooking with Cast Iron
As a woman in my early 50's I know that it's imperative that I get more iron in my diet. One of the last things I want is brittle bones or a hunchback.
But I'm of the mindset that vitamin pills and dietary supplements don't absorb into the body the way that real food does.
Beets and beet greens have loads of iron in them, but it never hurts to pump it up a bit by cooking in cast iron as often as possible.
Besides, if you take care of them food never sticks to these things!
Back when I was living in upstate NY, I used to scour the antique stores and yard sales for cast iron pans. I had a hefty collection. Down here in Florida, it's a lot harder to find old cast iron. (Probably nobody other than me wanted to haul that stuff all the way down here.) What I didn't expect is that my ex would end up with all my gorgeous and beautifully seasoned old pans in the divorce.
So a few years back I found an inexpensive cast iron fry pan at a closeout. When I tried to season it, I found out why it was on closeout. It had some kind of petroleum glue stuff that I couldn't get off. I tried burning it off and it stunk up the house for days! Couldn't scrape it off either. Without access to a sandblaster I had to give up on it.
Well Lodge doesn't do that! Pre-seasoned but not gunked up with chemicals. I won't buy any other brand. They're a bit more expensive than some cast iron, but they're meant to last long enough to hand down to your great-grandkids.
Heart and Bone Health from Vitamin K
Another biggie beet green benefit is that they're extremely high in Vitamin K.
I couldn't locate verifiable hard data on the amount of Vitamin K in beet greens so I didn't include it in the chart above, but one site I found suggested that a cup of raw beet greens has about 126% of the Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin K.
Just to confuse things, there are at least 2 forms of Vitamin K (K1 and K2) and at least one of those has several subtypes. I'm neither a doctor nor a nutritionist, so I won't try to break that down for you.
Science is still working out exactly how the mechanisms in vitamin K work. It's known to be one of the factors that help blood to clot (and prevent us from bleeding out). It's also supportive of bone health. It is believed to be instrumental in moving nutrients and proteins in an out of the bones Low levels of vitamin K have been linked to fractures and osteoporosis, especially in post-menopausal women.
Scientists are also looking into the possibility that it can help increase insulin resistance in men, and that it's involved in protecting the cells that line blood vessels. Some studies suggest that it may be useful in treating Alzheimer's.
Caring For Your Beet Greens
Beet greens are delicate and notorious for going bad pretty fast. That's why most grocers just chop the greens off and toss them away. How sad!
If you can't cook yours right away, follow these simple tips to keep them fresh:
Choose greens that are fresh and vibrant looking. Inspect them for wilt and mold before purchasing.
Cut the greens away from the root, leaving a couple inches of stem on the root, to prevent it from bleeding. Discard any any wilted or yellowed leaves.
It's okay to keep the greens in a plastic bag, in the fridge as long as you line that with paper towels first. Store the roots in your crisper drawer.
Don't rinse your greens until you're ready to cook them.
The greens will only stay fresh for about three days at most, so use them as soon as possible.
What to Serve Your Garlicky Beet Greens With
If you can manage to not eat it all right out of the frying pan (I can't!) serve it over rice or pasta, mashed potatoes or as a side.
Fantastic alongside chicken, pork, beef, lamb, fish, pretty much anything. As Hubby says, "You could put that on a bumper and it'd taste great."
Or serve them with the roasted beet roots and you probably won't miss the protein.
- 1 large bunch fresh beet greens (from about 3-4 beets)
- 2 (or more) cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons (approx) olive oil
- A squeeze of lemon juice, approx 1/4 to 1/2 lemon
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Rinse greens and let drain in a colander or on paper towels.
- Separate leaves from the stems where they meet.
- Rough chop the leaves.
- Chop the stems in 1 inch to 1/2 inch chunks.
- Slice (or chop--see the tip below) the garlic.
- TIP: The smaller you mince garlic, the hotter the taste. Probably something about releasing the oils. If you like it mild, use slices, if you like it more garlicky, mince it fine.
- In a frying pan or wok, on low heat, saute the garlic in olive oil. Do not allow it to brown or it can become bitter. About 3-5 minutes.
- When the garlic is translucent toss in stems. Saute approximately 3 minutes more, until tender-crisp.
- Toss in the greens themselves. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Allow to wilt just slightly, about 1-3 minutes, depending on the doneness you like. I prefer mine tender but fairly crisp. Occasionally toss with a spatula while it's cooking so that all the greens have a chance to be bathed in the oil and meet the heat.
- Squeeze in the lemon juice and add salt & pepper to taste. Toss again and serve.
- TIP: Roll the lemon on a chopping board and/or hold under hot water for a moment to release more juice. To squeeze a lemon without getting seeds, hold it cut side up and squeeze with your other hand underneath.
- If you prefer your beets more wilted, you can cover with a lid and let the residual heat continue to wilt the greens for a few minutes before serving.