For the Love of Local Farmers, Eat Your Produce! Segment 4: Beet Greens!

For the Love of Local Farmers, Eat Your Produce!
Kayla Parker, Seacoast Eat Local Intern

For the Love of Beet Greens!

beet greens
This week when I arrived at the Portsmouth Farmer’s Market, I was greeted by Sarah, my supervisor, and two huge bags of beet greens. When I asked her what was going on, Sarah informed me that her and one of the farmers had done some serious gleaning of their own. She showed me a picture of a pickup truck filled with beet greens and as my eyes grew wide she informed me that wasn’t even all of it. In fact, they had gleaned over 1,000 pounds of these leafy greens!  There was just one problem, when they went to deliver them to the local food pantries, some of them wondered how beet greens could be prepared. I knew that figuring out the answer to that question was going to be my next mission.

Why You Should Love Beet Greens
Beet greens are not typically sold by themselves, they usually just tag along with their root, the part of this vegetable that most people are familiar with consuming. It’s sad to say, but a lot of people just chop off these greens and throw them away, After reading this, I hope you will think twice about that the next time, because they are a delicious nutrient dense food that can also be used in tasty dishes along with the beets, or alone.

When you think about leafy greens, you probably don’t think about them as being a good source of protein, but they are, just ask Popeye! Beet greens are no exception to this, containing 4 grams of protein per one cup cooked, you might just start turning into a muscle bound sailor yourself. All joking aside, beet greens are also very low in calories, at just 39 per cup cooked, and contain a whole lot of vitamins and minerals. They are highest in Vitamins K, A, C,  and Riboflavin. Although Riboflavin is not a source of energy by itself, it is a B vitamin which helps the body convert the food that you eat into useful energy. Some people who complain of symptoms of chronic fatigue may actually be deficient in one or more B vitamins such as this one. As for minerals, beet greens are a very good source of potassium, manganese, magnesium, and copper. Copper is a mineral that receives little credit, but it is important in the body’s ability to absorb and metabolize iron. As expected, beet greens are also a very good source of dietary fiber.
Nutrient profile from Nutritiondata.self.com

How You Should Love Beet Greens
Because of the overabundance of beet greens this week, I decided to take a large bag of them home myself. I knew that I was not going to be able to eat them all before they went bad, I decided to put aside enough for my featured recipe and  blanch and freeze the rest so I could use them in later recipes.

Local Beet Green Salad With Beets and Feta
Serves 4

beet greens and feta

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5 medium-large beets (about 3 inches in diameter) with greens
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)
¾ cup walnut pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk oil, vinegar and garlic in small bowl to blend. Season dressing generously with salt and pepper.

Cut green tops off beets; reserve tops. Wrap each beet individually in foil and place directly on rack in oven.

While beets are baking, cut stems off beet greens and discard stems. Wash greens. Transfer greens, with some water still clinging to leaves, to large pot. Stir over high heat until just wilted but still bright green, about 4 minutes. Transfer greens to cold water bath to cool. Squeeze out excess moisture, then chop coarsely.

Remove beets from oven after about one hour, or when tender when pierced with a fork. Peel beets while warm. Cut beets in half and slice thinly. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in ½ amount of dressing.

Transfer greens to medium bowl. Toss almonds and enough dressing to coat.

Arrange beets in center of platter. Surround with greens; sprinkle with feta. Drizzle with any remaining dressing.
Recipe modified from epicurious.com

How to Blanch and Freeze the Rest

Place a large pot of water on stove on high heat. While waiting for water to boil, prepare beet greens by cutting off stems. Prepare a bowl of cold water with ice.

When water comes to a boil, submerge beet greens and cover. Let boil for only two minutes.

When time is up, remove greens from water using a slotted or pasta spoon and immediately transfer to bowl of water and ice to stop the cooking process. Leave in cold water for two minutes, then squeeze out excess water and place on a clean towel.

Continue this process until you have blanched all the greens. Note: the boiling water may be used up to five times, after which a new pot of water should be replaced. Also, you may need to continue adding ice to the cold water bowl as water will heat up after every batch.

After excess water has been squeezed from beet greens, place them in airtight zip-loc bags and freeze for later use.
Recipe modified from epicurious.com

 

Some other links to great beet green recipes to try:

Simple side dish

Toss with pasta

Beet and beet green quiche

 

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