Beet Greens: Because a Top is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Let’s say you are at the grocery store, okay? You grab a cart with one broken wheel (naturally) and wind your way through the aisles somehow avoiding that nice Mrs. Johnson who always manages to run her cart over your foot when she wheels over to say hello.

Let’s say you safely steer clear of the candy aisle and arrive in the produce section. You decide you are in the mood for something healthy, delicious and fresh. So you spend what little free time you have today really checking out what’s available – and let’s say you chose a perfectly ripe, red apple.

Then you make your way to the checkout and get stuck behind cell phone guy and his very public conversation about his ‘effing wife and her ugly divorce proceedings. His third and final credit card somehow finally gets approved and he pays for his Lamisil and gets out of your way (with a look over his shoulder like you’re the one with the problem).

Then after three price-checks and lots of rolled eyes from the people behind you, you hand over your hard-earned cash to pay for that apple, packing it up and taking it to the car. Once you bully your way out of the parking lot and make that nearly impossible left turn into rush hour traffic, you spend 45 stressful minutes driving 2.75 miles to your house (let’s say you live in Los Angeles).


washing beet greensYou get home and you carefully wash that beautiful apple. Then you pull out your very best, perfectly sharpened knife and you cut that apple precisely in half. You wrap one half in an ugly old piece of plastic wrap and toss it into the refrigerator vegetable bin. The other half you promptly dump into the garbage pail.

Why would you do that? Well, I bet right now you are rolling your eyes and screaming loudly into your monitor “I wouldn’t do that, Greg!”

Well if that’s true why do you do it with beets? I’ve seen you do it so don’t deny it. I have worked so hard here at Sippity Sup trying to get you to eat beets. I thought we were making real progress. I have seen some lovely roasted beet salads working their way across the blogosphere. That makes me happy.

But what about the greens? Did you think they were poisonous? Beet greens are food. We don’t throw perfectly good food in the garbage. Even Richie Rich knows better than that!

Hearty beet greens are called bietoline in Italian and are enjoyed in many preparations This version is cooked with anchovies and garlic and a bit of tomato until they become wonderfully savory. It is one of the more typical variations and would be served as a rustic all-purpose side dish.

Beet Greens with Anchovies serves 2 CLICK here for a printable recipe

  • 1 bunch beet greens, thick stems removed
  • 2 whole salt packed anchovies, tails & heads removed
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 T crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 2 T water
  • 2 T parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 t poppy seeds (optional)

beet greens with anchovies & poppy seedsWash the greens extremely well by immersing them in cool water and agitate the water to remove any grit. Drain and repeat. Dry the greens well, then roll them, cigar style. Slice them crosswise into 1/4″ chiffonades. Set aside.

Fillet the anchovies by brushing away any residual salt and press along the backbone with your thumb, turn it over and easily pull the backbone ribs away. This step in unnecessary with canned fillets. Soak the fillets in cool water for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, garlic, anchovies, and pepper flakes, if using. Cook, stirring, until fragrant with garlic, about 30 seconds.

Using the largest holes on a box grater held over the skillet, grate the tomato allowing all the pulp, seeds and juice to fall into the skillet. Add water and greens. Stir to combine, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally until greens are extremely tender and flavors meld about 20 minutes.

Transfer the warm greens to a serving platter and top them with the grated parmesan cheese and (optionally) the poppy seeds.


Greg Henry