Beet greens, that is. While chefs and peasants the world round have long known the culinary value of beet greens (that is, the stalks and leaves attached to beets), most folks just discard them and get straight to the business of cooking the beet root itself. At my local farmer’s market, people working the stalls will often offer to cut off the beet greens, knowing that many customers would rather not have their hand-tote weighed down by excess, leafy ballast. Just this weekend at our favorite stall, my enterprising wife—having noticed the customer in front of her let the person working the stall lop the greens off her beets—asked for and received just about all of the days the beet green rejects thus far. Now the lower shelf in our refrigerator is a veritable field of red and green stalks and leaves.
I know what we and our kids will be eating this week: beet greens. We’ll start off sauteeing them in olive oil and garlic. We’ll probably serve them as a side dish with a piece of protein (maybe some sausage, the earthy bitterness will play nicely there). Maybe toss them with goat cheese and pasta. Probably put them on a pizza with some quattro formaggio. At least three meal’s worth of earthy flavor and green goodness all for the sum total price of nothing—except for a long standing relationship with the workers at the farmstand in our neighborhood. Try doing that at your local chain supermarket.