Sauteed Garlic Beet Greens

“Will you do me a favor?” Tim says to me, the two of us sitting side by side in the car.

Vertical image of a pile of wilted vegetables with purple stems on a white plate, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

He’s driving, just as he usually is when we’re in the car together. It’s our habit. He knows I’d rather sit – sit and look at Instagram, sit and watch people out the window, sit and zone out to ponder some new topic he will no doubt hear about from me in due time.

So the fact that he usually drives is one way he serves me. It’s right up there with killing bugs, cleaning out gutters, and replacing the battery in our car – all tasks I guess I could do, if pressed, but which to me are becoming as good as poetry and candlelit dinners. I know, to Tim, they’re acts of love.

While it’s words that flow out of me when I feel great affection, for Tim, it’s more practical things, simple actions to show that he cares.

“Will you make beet greens for dinner?”

Vertical image of a bunch of green leaves with purple stems on a wooden surface.

As he throws out this request, two bags of produce rumble along with us through industrial corners and residential streets in Woodbine and Berry Hill. Included in this week’s CSA haul are lettuce, celery, radishes, garlic, a handful of thyme, and the item that prompted Tim’s idea: beets.

Tim loves beets. More specifically, beet greens. In fact, he loves all greens.

As you may remember from his salad post, he grew up in a home where they were everyday fare. His family ate salad every night, and to this day, they all like sauteed spinach, sauteed mustard, sauteed Swiss chard.

When we were in Chicago recently, visiting his grandma in a rehabilitation home, Tim’s aunt pulled out a thermos of escarole for her, cooked exactly the way Tim likes it: sauteed in garlicky olive oil until soft and wilty, combined with water or broth and a little salt.

Vertical image of a pile of wilted green and purple vegetables on a white plate on top of a pink napkin.

He pulls the car up our driveway, and the two of us walk inside. As I wash vegetables, he packs them away in the fridge.

I ask him to grab me a baking dish to roast the beets. I wonder if he could turn on the oven, and he does. While I wash dirt off beets, revealing deep red skin and rosy stems, I ask him to tell me again how to cook them.

“Tell me in a linear fashion,” I say to him when I think he’s getting distracted. “So I saute the garlic. What’s next?”

Tim heads out to a meeting, kissing me goodbye as he does, and I set to work at the stove. While he’s gone, the garlic dances in the pan. The giant pile of leaves wilts and reduces into an almost paltry amount.

I check for softness – tender, with no more bite. I taste for salt – needs more. Remembering what he told me, I add water to the pan and let it cloud and darken, absorbing the flavors of what’s been cooked.

Vertical image of a cast iron skillet with whole greens, oil, and garlic.

“One of the bonuses of buying raw beets is getting the tops,” Marcella Hazan writes in her book Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, which I’ve pulled out and am flipping through while the kitchen fills with a heady garlic scent. “Both the stems and the leaves are excellent when boiled and served as a salad.”

I think back to the first time I held raw beets, like foreign jewels inside my CSA box. It was 2009. Then, Jacqui had been my encourager, just like Tim was for me today. She’d written instructions; Tim spoke them. In both cases, I felt blessed.

I know I talk about Tim a lot around here. I’m always telling you how thankful I am for him and how I’m still surprised he’s mine. This is the sort of thing many people don’t like: too sappy, too happy, too private, too young love.

Vertical close-up image of a pile of wilted greens with purple stems and garlic slices on a white plate.

But words are what come out of me when I feel something, sort of like doing the dishes is what comes out of Tim, sort of like cooking is what comes out of a lot of you.

When Tim returns, I slide a plate in front of him at the table. It’s my attempt to love him in the way he feels it best. His eyes light up. He smiles. We feast.

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Horizontal image of slightly wilted greens in a cast iron skillet.

Sauteed Garlic Beet Greens


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

When you’re in the mood for wilted garlicky greens, skip standard spinach and reach for some beautiful scarlet beet stems instead.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • Stalks and greens of four fresh beets, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Water

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the garlic and cook until lightly golden, about 1 minute.
  2. A few handfuls at a time, add the beet greens and stalks, allowing them to wilt slightly before you add more. Continue adding in the greens and stalks, and a splash of water to help them cook down.
  3. Once you’ve added all of the greens and stalks, add the salt, and stir to combine. Saute until the greens are wilted and the stalks are tender, about 5-8 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt if necessary and serve warm.

  • Category: Vegetables
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Side Dishes

Keywords: beet greens, garlic, side dish

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Rinse the Produce and Chop the Garlic

Horizontal close-up image of beet greens.

Thoroughly rinse and dry the beet greens and stems, and thinly slice the garlic with a sharp knife.

Step 2 – Soften the Garlic

Horizontal image of oil and garlic slices in a cast iron skillet.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the garlic and cook until lightly golden, about 1 minute.

Step 3 – Add the Greens, Stalks, and Water

Horizontal image of fresh produce with purple stems in a cast iron skillet with oil and slices of garlic.

Add the chopped greens and stalks a few handfuls at a time, allowing them to wilt slightly before you add more.

Continue adding in them in the skillet, and add a splash of water to keep them cooking down.

Step 4 – Season and Saute

Horizontal image of slightly wilted greens in a cast iron skillet.

Once you’ve added all of them, add the salt. Stir to combine.

Saute until the greens are wilted and the stalks are tender, about 5-8 minutes.

Season to taste with additional salt if necessary.

Beet it, Greens

Just kidding. Please come back.

If you’re guilty of tossing that beautiful bunch of beet greens to the side, don’t worry – now is the time to redeem yourself.

Horizontal image of wilted vegetables with purple stems on a white plate on a wooden table.

Whether you need a landing zone for a fried egg, a base for seared scallops, or a quick side to partner with roasted chicken, these garlicky veggies are as versatile as it gets.

Beet greens don’t fly solo, so if you need some tips on how to use the rad root veggie itself, check out these earthy recipes:

What other aromatics do you use to “turn up the beet” on your greens? Lemon zest? Chilies? Spill your finest flavor tricks in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.

Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on June 28, 2013. Last updated: September 20, 2019 at 17:43 pm. With additional writing and editing by Fanny Slater and Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

22 thoughts on “Sauteed Garlic Beet Greens”

  1. Beets still amaze me every time I eat them and cook them. Jewels of the earth, for sure. And your writing still gets to me with every post. I feel very lucky that I get to read it.

    Have a great weekend, Shanna!

  2. i remember the first time i went beet picking with dw. we decided to snip off the tops/greens because it was SO ANNOYING to handle. now i cringe at how wasteful i was, because the greens really are fantastic when prepared properly. your recipe is very similar to how we use up our greens, though sometimes we do add a splash of citrus and if we have time prior, we caramelize onions and then add the greens.

    personally, i don’t mind when you talk about Tim and your relationship. i think it’s sweet. i always thought it was sweet, even before i met my own beloved. such effusiveness is lovely.

  3. This is so beautiful Shanna. I love how each person in each couple has a different love languange; Tim’s being actions and yours being words – and I love how you show us the importance of continuing to serve your partner even after years of being together; even after seeing the worst of them, day in and out; and still loving them, and making an effort to serve them the way they best understand love. Thanks for the reminder to pay attention to the details; to notice the small acts of kindness and love, and never to take them for granted! <3

  4. Oh, Shanna, you speak to my hear. “No human love is perfect love, and no person will make you truly complete, but in the working there will be great joy. In the pushing towards each other, over and over again, through tears and through effort and through fear, there comes growth.” Such perfectly beautiful and wise words.

    Thank you, as always, for this glimpse into your day, your life. Now when I see or eat beet greens, I will forever think of you and Tim, with a big smile.

  5. Oh gosh Shanna, it’s not too sappy or too young love. It’s just right. It recalls all of the ways I feel love from everyone around me and how I can radiate it out, in whatever small or large way. As we work and learn and talk it out, we are loving. This is a wonderful thought. Big hugs to you (and tons of delicious garlicky beet green vibes) for the weekend 🙂

  6. I just love the fact that Tim asks you to cook beet greens for him. I would think that doesn’t happen that often among married couples in the world 😉 I always like to read your words about your life and relationship, it’s always genuine and thoughtful and insightful. And very brave of you to share, so thank you!

    • Haha! I love it, too. So many times I look at Tim and think, “You are not like anyone else.” : ) And I’m so glad!

      Also, thank you especially for what you said about being brave. I’ve been thinking lately about the bravery it takes for anyone, including all of us bloggers, to share personal stories with the public at large. And sometimes it is crazy and weird and scary, but other times it opens up meaningful connections to people like you. Thanks, Helene.

  7. I’ve been thinking about this since I read it yesterday. And better, I’ve been praying and looking for the little ways I can serve Brad. You convict, inspire, and teach me all the time. I’m so grateful for that. AND for something to do with beet greens, which unlike Tim, I hate.

  8. Your words, as ever, are so thought-provoking. They make me think about the way that I can love other people and the ways in which I know that I am loved. Thank you.

  9. This recipe has become a new staple for me I’ve been making it with chard and eating it for lunch with a piece of toast slathered with avocado and topped with an egg. So easy and delicious and it leaves me feeling great! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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