Spiced beets and beet greens melange

By Wendy Andresen | Aug 28, 2019
Photo by: Wendy Andresen

I couldn’t resist the beautiful assortment of beets on my most recent trip to the farmers’ market. I admit I was surprised when I sliced them and found even more beautiful colors than I had expected – red, yellow and striped. And the greens were unblemished perfection, a far cry from what we find in the supermarket during the winter. Beets and their greens are nutritional giants, and I really like mixing them together in one colorful, savory dish. I know that some people prefer to roast their beets, but I have a hard time justifying the required long baking time for just a handful of beets. Maybe you could roast some other vegetables at the same time to make it worthwhile, or perhaps bake a loaf of bread.

In the supermarket aisle with rice and various grains, I discovered a big plastic jar with a mixture of pearled couscous, tricolor orzo, split baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa. I took a gamble on it, and I’m glad I did. It was the perfect accompaniment to the beets and greens dish.


One bunch of beets with green tops attached

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup sliced onions

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. caraway seeds

1/4 tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Basil leaves for garnish, chiffonade


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. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat somewhat, and cook until the beets can just barely be pierced with a fork. This may take only 25 minutes if the beets are small, or as long as 45 minutes for giant size. Please don’t turn them into mush. We want them crisp-tender.

2. While the beets are cooking, wash the greens twice, with stems attached, to remove all traces of grit.

3. Slice the stems into 1-inch pieces and set them aside. Coarsely chop the greens.

4. When the beets are barely fork-tender, drain them and rinse them under running water, sliding the skins off. Cut off the root tip and the top part where the stems are attached and cut the beets from north to south into chunky wedges.

5. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil until it shimmers and then add the cut-up beet stems, sliced onions, garlic, caraway seeds, and 5-spice powder. Cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes, until onions are translucent and stem pieces are beginning to soften.

6. Add the chopped greens to the sauté pan and continue to stir and cook until the greens are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. You might want to add a splash of water if it seems too dry.

7. Add the beet wedges to the sauté pan and reheat throughout. Add salt and pepper to taste. You might want to drizzle some extra olive oil over each serving.

8. Garnish with basil chiffonade. This is just a fancy word to describe a way of slicing the basil by stacking the leaves one on top another, rolling up the bundle, and slicing very thinly across them with a sharp knife.

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