Heirloom Beets & Greens

Whether you have a love affair with them or not, you can eat every inch of a beet, making use of both the greens and the roots! There’s something for everyone.

I have to confess right at the start that beets are not my favorite vegetable. I think my mother served me way too many of them when I was a child, and they were always deep red and bleeding into my mashed potatoes. She said they were good for me, so I ate them, but without much pleasure.

However, I always thought I made it up to the beets by loving the greens!

Yes, tasty beets!

I’ve come to terms with them over the years and actually found a couple that I like! Yes, like. A golden beet, if surrounded by other vegetables, is absolutely fine. But the one that catches my eye is the Italian heirloom chioggia. It is sweet, and it doesn’t taste like dirt! It is also well behaved and rarely bleeds into anything else on the plate. It’s pretty!

chioggia beets
So pretty! These Chioggia, or candy stripe beets, are mild and sweet. Photo: VintageKitchen.org.

While my mother and aunts boiled the beets to death when I was a kid, I prefer to steam or roast them, just until tender. They are also good sautéed with onions.

The greens cook much faster than the roots, so I cook them separately, not forgetting the stems!

Nutritional value

Beets are packed with nutrition! B vitamins, Vitamin C, iron, manganese, copper, magnesium, and potassium, they can help reduce blood pressure, the risk of colon cancer, and they are filled with detoxifying nutrients. The greens have even more nutritional value, being one of those dark, green leafy vegetables we’re told to eat. They are packed with the cancer-fighting flavonoids B-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. They are a great source of Vitamins A, C, and K, B complex vitamins and minerals magnesium, copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

So, I guess mother was right.

Look for these lovely candy stripe beets at farm stands and markets. The greens are a lighter color than red beets without the heavily pigmented ribs. Sweet and tender, these beets are a favorite of ‘non-beet lovers’!

Heirloom Beets and Greens

This is really a technique, not a recipe!

1 large bunch of Chioggia or golden beets

Balsamic or Sherry vinegar

Malden or a coarse salt and pepper

Cut the beets from the greens and scrub the roots well. Trim off any long ends if you like. You can peel the beets if you like, but it is not necessary in the least.

Cut any large beets in half. If I have a few really large ones, I’ll slice some so they cook quicker. It also looks inviting on the plate.

Set up whatever steaming system you have. I use my 5 1/2 quart, 12″ stainless steel sauté pan that has a tight fitting lid and my all-purpose steamer basket.  Put water in the bottom of the pan up to, but not touching the bottom of the steamer.

Place the larger beets on the bottom and the smaller ones on top. If you have a lot, cook them separately.

Steam until they are tender, start looking at 8 minutes, this will depend on the size of your beets.

Remove the beets from the pan, cover with a lid or foil to keep warm, and add the greens to the pot. These will cook quickly, so keep an eye on them. You want them to retain their color. Alternately, you can cook the beets to almost done, then add the greens on top if there is room in the pan.

Arrange the greens and beets on a platter in any way you like, and drizzle with the vinegar. You can use any vinegar you like here, and as much or little as you like, or omit it altogether and dot it with butter.

Sprinkle with flaked sea salt and a little freshly ground pepper and serve.

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. I recently tasted a beet salad while in Hawaii and loved it! 😍

    1. What did they add to it?

      1. Bacon, egg, and bleu cheese. It’s funny though. They were out of feta, so I asked them to substitute it with bleu cheese. When I got home I made my own version. http://Snapshotsincursive.com/2017/03/20

      2. With the blue cheese, I think I would love it too!

      3. I’ve been having a “love affair” with bleu cheese since my early twenties. lol 💕

      4. It actually took me until my 30s to really appreciate it, but there was no going back!

  2. Lickthespoon says:

    I added roasted beetroot cut in wedges to a beef and horseradish stew just before serving and even my beetroot hating husband loved it.

    1. Wonderful idea, especially with the horseradish!

  3. chef mimi says:

    I have never steamed beets! What a great idea – I can’t wait to try it. I usually roast mine, but not in foil, cause to me that’s not roasting. I peel them, coat in oil, and then roast just like you’d do broccoli roasted or carrots. Such wonderful flavor.

    1. Yes, I certainly agree Mimi, the flavor of roasted vegetables is incredible! Roasted any vegetable really. I’ll often steam something like this because it is a little faster. If I’m feeling lazy, I can steam the beets until they are almost done, then add the greens on top and save a pan!

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