Maybe it’s just me, but I inevitably return home from the farmer’s market with big sacks full of fresh produce, stems and leafy greens protruding out the tops. I just can’t help myself. Fresh, local produce is too good and quite often too cheap to pass up. But I hate snipping off the tops to carrots or turnips or beets and not really having a culinary plan for them. Sometimes I’ll throw them in a salad or a soup stock, but more often they get neglected, buried deep in the refrigerator, destined for the compost bin. In hopes of preventing this, here’s a recipe for sautéed beet greens that’s so good it may leave you wondering what it was you were going to cook with the roots.

Beet greens and stems have a great balance to them. They have that distinct earthy, beety sweetness, but it’s considerably muted compared with the root. The sweet balances perfectly with the crisp, fresh and somewhat bitter green flavors only found in the beet tops. This recipe pairs the greens with garlic, sweet and bright apple cider vinegar and spicy, tangy Dijon mustard. It’s topped with crunchy, toasted walnuts and fresh dill. It’s a perfect spring or summer side dish that tastes like the farmer’s market. And if that wasn’t enough, everything comes together fairly effortlessly in a frying pan in just a few minutes.



Serves 4 as a side

-2 tbsp olive oil
-1 clove garlic, sliced thin
-1 large bunch beet tops, greens and stems separated and sliced into 1-inch pieces
-1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
-1 tsp Dijon mustard
-1 handful walnuts
-fresh dill
-salt and black pepper

1.    To a frying pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and then the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds before adding the beet stems and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 3 minutes.

2.    Meanwhile, put walnuts in a dry pan on medium-low heat. Toast for 1-2 minutes or until they become fragrant and nutty, being careful not to burn them. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, give the toasted walnuts a rough chop.

3.    When the beet stems are beginning to soften up, add the greens and a bit more salt and cook for another minute. Stir in the cider vinegar and mustard and cook for another 1 minute. Salt to taste and then remove from heat.

4.    Serve immediately with a few turns of ground black pepper, a handful of chopped and toasted walnuts, and torn dill.