Monday, June 11, 2012

beet greens

Something about this dish reminds of me of my mother. 
Strange because I don't remember her ever making beets when I was a kid.
I do remember being maybe nine or ten years old. Our family driving down the highway in our giant brown station wagon with it's side paneling on the outside. No air conditioning in the car so all the windows were open and the wind was so loud I could barely hear my mother telling dad to pull over. She wanted to harvest the greens growing along the edges of the freeway. 
I wanted to die - I would slouch down in the back and pray no one I knew drove past us.
I think it was mustard greens she was after. I think.
And I think it was probably twenty years before I ate any sort of 'greens' again.

None of this is relevant to this recipe. But every time I saute greens this is what is playing in my mind. These images of my mother and the foods she made.

Anyway, here is the dish.

I love these greens over rice and with the egg - although I think a poached egg would have been even lovelier but I already had hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator so that's what I used.
Next time you're at the Farmer's market and the person asks if you want the tops cut off your bunch of beets tell them no. Take them home and cook them as follows. You will love it.

Couple notes: 
*These greens cook like spinach - start with what looks like 50 pounds of greens and after cooking there is enough to fill a teacup. One bunch of greens (from 5 or 6 beets) yields about 1 serving. Sorry....when I'm at the market I always ask the farmer for the tops that have been cut off from customers before me. This will usually get me enough for 3 or 4 servings.
*Wash them super, super well. I do this one leaf at a time and yes, it is beyond tedious.

This recipe is for 1 bunch of greens. Double or triple as needed.

1 bunch of Beet greens - they usually come 5 or 6 in a batch - wash and rinse.
4 cloves of garlic - sliced.
1 sweet white onion - thinly sliced.
4 or 5 strips of bacon.
a pinch of sugar.
red chili pepper flakes if desired.


Wash the greens thoroughly - set aside.
Fry up the bacon - remove from the pan - chop and save - but do not drain the  bacon grease (unless there seems to be a lot of it) you really want some of this leftover bacon goodness to flavor your greens.
While the bacon is cooking you can chop up the greens, garlic and onions. 
For the beet greens - I usually cut the stems at the point where the leaf ends.
Chop up the stem part and set that aside - this part needs a couple extra minutes cooking time.
Then chop up all the leafy parts into bite size pieces.
First into the pan (that still has bacon grease in it) goes the garlic slices - cook 2 or 3 minutes - just until they start looking a little crispy.
Then add the onion and stem pieces and a sprinkling of sugar.
Cook until softened - probably 7 or 8 minutes - longer if you like your vegetables softer (I do not).
Once the stem parts are ready add the leafy pieces and the bacon.
Saute just until the greens are cooked and wilted.
Taste for salt and pepper and add the chili flakes if you're using.

Serve immediately.


  1. I have discovered greens too, they are so yummy. But I have to ask, what is that thing that looks like a worm in the second picture, directly below the egg? I have to ask because I almost served my husband a live snail in some salad greens I grew, and was wondering if beet greens have creepy crawlies on them too? Or is that just a weird looking piece of bacon?

    1. LOL oh goodness it does look like some sort of creepy crawly thing!!! It's a slice of onion - I assure you. I'm a little neurotic about washing ALL greens specifically because of crawling things. That was funny - I didn't even see that.