Pink Greens

Tis the season for WINTER GREENS!! Kale, collard greens, chard, escarole, mustard greens – just to name a few!  This is the time of year when I expand my green leafy vegetable repertoire beyond spinach and kale to include some of the stunning dark leafy greens that pop up in produce stores in the Fall/Winter seasons.

Today’s recipe features an often overlooked and ignored member of the winter green family: the lovely pink-veined greens of the beet.  I first fell in love with beets sometime last year when I began using them in smoothies, and I’m sad to say that I probably threw away a lot of the greens, not knowing how to use them 

Well today I turned over a new leaf (one with pink veins that is) and have committed to never again disgard of these flavorful, nutrient-packed beauties ever again!

Beet greens have a bitter flavor that pairs well with savory ingredients such as olive oil, garlic, and onions. It’s important to rinse beet greens thoroughly and trim away the long stems before cooking. Beet greens contain moderate levels of vitamin C and vitamin A, as well as low levels of folate. Additionally, beet greens provide fiber and add flavor to salads, sauces and stir-frys.  So many health benefits!!

  • Vitamin C: One-half cup of cooked beet greens have 30 percent of your daily vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that acts as a coenzyme to help synthesize certain amino acids. Additionally, vitamin C is necessary to produce collagen, a protein that supports healthy skin, bones, teeth and blood vessels. Your immune system also needs vitamin C to make white blood cells which fight off infections. About 90 percent of vitamin C in the American diet comes from fruits and vegetables, such as beet greens.
  • Vitamin A: Beet greens are also high in vitamin A, according to Nellie Hedstrom, nutrition specialist for the University of Maine Extension service. Your body uses fat to process and store vitamin A, which remains in your system longer than water soluble vitamins. Vitamin A is necessary for good vision, playing a role in light absorption in the rods and cones of your retina. You also need vitamin A for cell differentiation, immunity and healthy skin.
  • Vitamin K: Beet greens are a significant source of vitamin K, a nutrient that helps control the clotting factors of your blood. The average adult male requires 120 micrograms of vitamin K and the average female adult needs 90 micrograms. One cup of raw beet greens will provide 152 micrograms of this nutrient.

This recipe was inspired by a fellow Food52 foodie, with just a minor tweak of my own   The original recipe calls for sherry vinegar, but I only had white wine vinegar at home so I used that instead.   Feel free to substitute your favorite vinegar, I’m sure apple cider vinegar would also work well here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bunch beet greens
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Wash and trim beet greens. If stems are very thick, it is worth trimming them back a bit.
  2. On medium heat, salute the garlic and red pepper flakes in the olive oil until slightly browned. Add black pepper and sugar.
  3. Add the beet greens into the pan, add water then immediately cover. Allow greens to wilt for a few minutes. Once they have cooked down, remove the lid and stir all ingredients together.
  4. Cook until greens are completely wilted, then remove from heat. Drain any remaining water.
  5. Pour vinegar on greens, mix up and enjoy!
SidesAlicia Uhl