Cooking with beets – can you cook the stems?

I subscribe to a vegetable delivery program with FoodShare called the Good Food Box and received some great looking beets from Riga Farms. I love beets. I know that they can be messy to prepare and stain your hands and cutting board but I love the earthy, sweet taste and firm texture. I prepare beets to use in salads or borscht and would usually throw the stems away but you can cook those too! The beet greens can be cooked similarly to spinach or kale and the stems can be diced and sautéed.

How to cook beets:

After washing and peeling them, I cook beets by drizzling them with olive oil and sprinkling them with salt and pepper. I either wrap them in foil or just place them on a pan with parchment paper and bake them at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes until soft (a fork or knife should go through easily).

You can also boil them (which is even faster). Wash and peel the beets and cut them in half. Place them in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook them for 20 to 30 minutes until soft.

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Beet salad – serves 4
From Riga Farms

Ingredients:
4 medium beets – clean well and cut in half
3 Tbsp of pure maple syrup
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 10 ounce package mixed baby salad greens
½ cup frozen concentrate orange juice
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 ounces goat cheese

Directions:
Cover beets with water in a medium size saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until tender. Drain and when cool, cut in to cubes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, vinegar and olive oil for the dressing.
In the meantime, place the walnuts in a skillet over medium-low heat. Heat until starting to toast, then stir in the maple syrup. Cook and stir until evenly coated, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Place a large helping of baby greens onto each plate. Place equal amounts of beets and candied walnut over the greens, and top with dabs of goat cheese. Drizzle each plate with some of the dressing.

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Beet salad with goat cheese.

How to cook beet greens:

Wash the beet greens and separate them from the stem. You can chop or tear the leaves and quickly sauté them in oil with garlic, salt and pepper.

Can you cook the beet stems?

You sure can. The stems can be quite tough so it’s best to use the thinner stems or dice the thicker stems into small pieces (cut them lengthwise first and then cut them across so you get nice small pieces). These can be sautéed as well.

Beet greens (including stems) – serves 4
From Riga Farms

Ingredients:
1 ½ pound beet greens
2 strip of thick cut bacon, chopped
½ cup chopped onion
1 ½ large garlic clove, minced
1 cup of water
1 1/8 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/6 cup of cider vinegar

Directions:
Wash the greens really well. Drain greens and remove any heavy stems. Tear leaves into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
In a saucepan, cook bacon until lightly browned. Add onions, cook over medium heat approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions soften and start to brown. Add garlic and water. Stir in sugar and red pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Add greens, reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in vinegar. Serve.

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Beet greens and stems

If you want to use a recipe that uses both the beets and the beet greens, here is a good one:

Roasted Beets and Sautéed Beet Greens – serves 4
From Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
1 bunch beets including greens
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped onion (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (optional)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C). Wash the beets thoroughly, leaving the skins on, and remove the greens. Rinse greens, removing any large stems, and set aside. Place the beets in a small baking dish or roasting pan, and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. If you wish to peel the beets, it is easier to do so once they have been roasted.
Cover, and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a knife can slide easily through the largest beet.
When the roasted beets are almost done, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onion, and cook for a minute. Tear the beet greens into 2 to 3 inch pieces, and add them to the skillet. Cook and stir until greens are wilted and tender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the greens as is, and the roasted beets sliced with either red-wine vinegar, or butter and salt and pepper.

There you have it. Ways that you can cook the entire beet including the greens and stems!

Do you have a favourite recipe that uses beets?