As much as I love beets, I think I love the green tops even better. They cook quickly and can be prepared just as you would other greens. This recipe combines the tops with the roots and dresses them royally with a magnificent syrup. I used some fancy raspberry balsamic that yielded a perfect sweet-tart sauce.

Ingredients:

One large bunch of beets with green tops attached

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup diced onions

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup balsamic vinegar (use your best)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons maple syrup

2 Tbsp. dried cranberries

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Cut the greens from the beets, leaving an inch of stem attached to the beets. Do not peel the beets. Place the beets in a saucepan and add enough lightly salted water to cover them. Boil them until they can just barely be pierced with a fork — 25 to 45 minutes — depending on size. Do not overcook them.

2. Wash the greens and stems and cut them into 2-inch pieces. Drain well and set aside.

3. While the beets are cooking, make the balsamic syrup. In a small saucepan, whisk together the balsamic, mustard, and maple syrup. Cook and whisk on medium low heat for 7 minutes, until reduced and syrupy. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cranberries. Set aside.

4. When the beets are barely fork tender, drain them and rinse them under cold running water, slice off the top and bottom, and slip off the skins. Cut them into chunky wedges.

5. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil until it shimmers and add the onions and garlic. Cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes, until the onions are just beginning to brown.

6. Add the chopped greens and stems to the sauté pan and continue to stir and cook until the greens are wilted down. Cover the pan and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, until tender, stirring occasionally. Add the beet wedges to the sauté pan and reheat throughout. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with the balsamic syrup.

Wendy Andresen lives in Camden with her husband, Ray; her Sheltie, Sunshine; and her bunny, Rustle. She welcomes responses to her column at wendyandrayzer@yahoo.com.