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Beet greens


Why Eat It
Availability
Shopping
Storage
Preparation
Nutrition Chart


Why Eat It

Although we think of beets as a being grown for their roots, the leaves are actually the most nutritious part of the plant. Those who find most cooking greens too pungent in flavor will be happy to know that tender young beet leaves are among the mildest cooking greens of all. Beet greens may be sold attached to full-sized or baby beets, or in bunches by themselves. The long green or greenish-red leaves supply a good amount of folate (folic acid) as well as some calcium, iron, beta-carotene and another phytochemical, betacyanin, which is (like beta-carotene) an antioxidant.

Availability

Fresh beet greens are most abundant from June through October. Look for them at farmers' markets if unavailable at the supermarket.

Shopping

Beet greens are at their best when young and tend to become tougher as they mature. Look for a fresh green color--leaves should not be yellowed or browned--and purchase only moist, crisp, unwilted greens, unblemished by tiny holes, which indicate insect damage.

Storage

Wrap unwashed greens in damp paper towels, then place them in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator crisper for three to five days.

Preparation

Beet greens on their own are a terrific side dish or tossed with pasta. Wash the greens well in several changes of tepid water. Trim away the bottom stems that tend to be the toughest. Young, tender greens need no slicing or chopping and can be sauteed whole. Heat a small amount of olive oil and garlic in a nonstick skillet, add the greens, a sprinkling of salt and cook over medium-low heat until wilted and tender. If greens are slightly bitter, you can add a little sugar along with the salt when cooking them.

Older, tougher greens require chopping or slicing and longer cooking. How you cut the greens depends upon how you are going to cook them. To serve greens on their own, they can be torn into bite-size pieces or sliced crosswise. Again, heat a small amount of olive oil and garlic and cook over medium-low heat until wilted and tender.

Beet greens also make a wonderful sauce for pasta. Slice greens crosswise and saute in olive oil along with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and chopped olives if you like. Add a little broth or pasta cooking water to the pan to make the greens saucy and toss with hot penne, fusilli, or ziti. Add a small handful of grated Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts and serve.

Nutrition Chart

Beet Greens/1 cup cooked

39
Total fat (g)
0.3
Saturated fat (g)
0
Monounsaturated fat (g)
0.1
Polyunsaturated fat (g)
0.1
Dietary fiber (g)
4.2
4
Carbohydrate (g)
8
Cholesterol (mg)
0
Sodium (mg)
347
Beta-carotene (mg)
4.4
Calcium (mg)
164
Copper (mg)
0.4
Iron (mg)
2.7
Magnesium (mg)
98
Manganese (mg)
0.7
Potassium (mg)
1309


Date Published: 04/19/2005
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