My kids love to pick things. Like leaves off our maple tree. Unripened acorn squash from our garden. And that other thing little kinds find so irresistible. Fortunately, yesterday was the annual Harvest Festival at my CSA and we were invited to the farm for a potluck, stick horse races, and plenty of opportunities to pick-your-own.
Despite the heat on a mid-September afternoon, my two-year-old happily tugged on carrot tops, my four-year-old skipped amidst the golden beets, and my seven-year-old pretended to put strawberries in her pint while secretly munching. So they were happy.
I, however, was not so happy to find a tremendous pile of beet greens discarded at the end of the row. The folks picking alongside me had obviously decided that the only things worth keeping were the brightly-colored roots. Too bad, because beet greens are not only edible but highly nutritious and versatile.
After the festival, I spent a few hours going through our own tangle of beet greens, and now they’re in my freezer in 1-cup and 10-ounce portions. The former I’ll use to brighten up frittatas for quick weeknight dinners come winter, and the latter in place of spinach in my friend Amy’s fabulous spinach tart.
To prep beet greens, just 1) cut them off the roots, leaving about an inch; 2) wash them well; 3) put them in a pot of boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes; 4) drain and rinse under cold water to cool; 5) gently squeeze out excess water and let them dry on paper towels (they’ll stain a tea towel); and 6) chop and measure out the amount you’ll use in your favorite spinach, kale or chard recipes.
P.S. While you’re cooking the greens, you can also take care of the beets. I roasted mine in a 400-degree oven for 45 to 90 minutes, depending on size. You can either put foil directly on the cookie sheet or wrap beets individually in foil. The latter works well if you’re going to put them in the fridge for use another day.