How to Use Turnip Greens and Beet Greens

by Sherri Brooks Vinton

12/13/18

Beets and turnips are beloved for their sweet, earthy roots. The long leafy greens that crown them are equally dinner worthy. So, after using beet and turnip roots for other recipes, don’t let their tops go to waste. Like other greens, such as Swiss chard, a little heat cooks out their vegetal bitterness and astringency to result in tender, silky greens. Slot young, delicate specimens into any recipe that calls for chard or spinach. Put heartier, full-grown bunches to work in addition to or in place of sturdier leaves such as kale.

Questions To Ask

Whether you’re buying turnips and beets at the farmers’ market or at the grocery store, there are questions you can ask to learn more about how they were grown to make the most sustainable choice possible.

Here are tips and tricks for shopping more sustainably>>

Shopping for Beet and Turnip Greens

We’re happy to see that many grocery stores are now selling beets and turnips with their leaves attached. If your grocery store doesn’t, Fresh greens are a sign of a recent harvest and a short trip from field to fork. When shopping for them, look for plants that have vibrant green leaves, without a lot of yellowing or wilting. Pass slimy greens by. If you are fortunate enough to have beets or turnips growing in your garden, you can cut a few leaves and come again because the root will regenerate new ones. (You may find turnip greens at the store without any root at all. Such greens are grown specifically for their greens and are cooked in a different manner than described here.)

Prepping Beet and Turnip Greens

Trim leaves from their roots at the base of the stalk and wash them thoroughly. If you have a salad spinner, give them a whirl. If not, you can pat them dry with a clean tea towel. Cut out the center rib. You can use the ribs and stalks in your recipes, just dice them and give them a little advanced cooking time or use them all on their own in recipes designed to put them to work. With the ribs removed, the leaves can be used in a wide variety of recipes:

Using Beet and Turnip Greens

Sautéed Beet and Turnip Greens

A simple sauté transforms the leaves into a quick side dish or readies them to be tossed with pasta for an easy weekday meal.

Beet and Turnip Greens with Eggs

Rich, creamy eggs offer a perfect backdrop for the slightly tannic flavor of beet and turnip greens. Try them in an omelet, frittata, or quiche.

Raw Beet and Turnip Greens

The tenderest greens can be eaten raw. Tuck them into a sandwich or wrap or make them a salad centerpiece.

Beet and Turnip Roots and Greens

You can feature both the roots and greens in recipes that use both such as in a stovetop sauté or by boiling the roots and then adding the greens to the mix.

Beet and Turnip Green Bruschetta

Combine some canned or cooked beans with the sautéed greens listed above and use the mixture to top toasted baguette slices. Drizzle with olive oil and few gratings of hard cheese, such as Parmigiano Reggiano, and enjoy as an app or meatless meal.

Recipe: Goat Cheese Tart with Beet and Turnip Greens

This tart is a shapeshifter. It can be the centerpiece of a weekend brunch. You can serve it alongside a salad for a light lunch. Or it can be cut into two-bite squares and passed as an hors d’oeuvre.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
Salt and Pepper
4 cups washed and chopped beet or turnip greens
7 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons cream or yogurt
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, plus additional sprigs for garnish
1 1/ 2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), cubed
¼ cup iced water

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Sauté the greens. In a medium sauté pan, sauté the onion, seasoned with salt and pepper, in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the greens and sauté until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Blend the goat cheese. Combine the goat cheese, garlic, cream or yogurt, minced thyme in a medium bowl and use a fork to blend the ingredients together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Make the dough. If using a food processor, add the flour, salt and butter to the working bowl and pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand with pea-sized pieces of butter mixed in. Add the water in a slow drizzle, pulsing all the while. Continue to pulse until the dough forms a ball.
    If you are not using a food processor, combine the flour, salt and butter in a large bowl. Use a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter into the flour until it reaches the texture described above. Slowly work in the water until the dough forms a ball.
  5. Assemble the tart. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll it out to about a 1/4” thickness creating a round or oblong shape. Transfer the dough to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the goat cheese mixture over the dough, leaving a ¼” perimeter around the edge. Strew the greens mixture on top of the pastry.
  6. Bake until the crust is golden, about 20-25 minutes. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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