Beet Greens with Bacon

photo of beet greens

I was at the Hudson Farmers’ Market a couple of weeks ago and bought a bunch of beets from Amy Brown at the Red Oak Farm booth. Amy asked me if I was going to eat the greens. I have eaten them before but I usually just toss them in the compost. I confessed that I often found that they tasted like dirt.  Amy, more eloquently described the taste as “minerally.” A little re-branding of the taste from dirt to minerals and already I liked them better. I wasn’t eating dirt; I was eating minerals!

Beet greens do contain a good amount of minerals (calcium. iron, magnesium, potassium, copper). The amount of minerals depends on the soil they are grown in. The more nutrients in the soil, the more that makes it into the food. With all the beautiful-looking, organically-grown beets I saw at the market, I had to think they had been grown in good soil and were brimming with nutrients.

Amy said that it was her mission to get everyone to eat the beet greens. There is good reason to eat the whole beet plant, root and leaves. The greens win hands down as the more nutritional of the two. They are loaded with vitamin a, vitamin k and have a good amount of vitamin c, calcium. iron, magnesium, potassium, copper. The roots come in strong with folate and contain phytonutrients called betalains. These give the beet their iconic magenta color and are thought to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification properties. They compliment each other nutritionally and eaten together, they will make any nutritionist smile.

As with many foods that I may be a little slow to love, I added bacon. I don’t know if it was the bacon or that fact that I cooked the greens the same day I bought them, but they were delicious. I’m a convert! I will never toss out those greens again. When I run out of bacon, I’ll try sesame oil for an Asian take. I bet I will even like them with nothing more than garlic and olive oil. That’s how Amy cooks them.

While the beet roots can keep for weeks, the beet greens will wilt after a day or two in the fridge, so plan on fixing them soon after you buy (or pick) them.

Don’t let Amy down; eat your greens!

Beet Greens with Bacon

This is quite the Hudson Farmers Market dish. I bought beets from about every vendor who was selling them; the bacon came from Pigasso Farm and the hot sauce was from Hawthorne Valley (if you haven’t tried any of Hawthorn Valley’s fermented products, you’ve been missing out).

Ingredients
-Beet greens from one bunch (or two)
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2-3 strips of thick cut bacon
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2-3 garlic cloves, minced
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2 tablespoon fig infused vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
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1 teaspoon hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Method


  • Cut the greens from the beetroot. Wash the greens in a large bowl filled with cold water. Swish them around and then lift greens out of the water. Dump the water and wash a second time.  I do this until there is no dirt left in the bottom of the bowl.
  • Cut the stems into ½ pieces and set aside. Cut leaves into bite-sized pieces and set aside separately.
  • In a large sauté pan, fry the bacon until done. Remove bacon but leave all of the good bacon grease in the pan. I say the more bacon grease the better, but you can get by with a tablespoon.
  • Turn heat to medium/ medium-high and add garlic and beet stems. Cook for about 10 minutes; stir occasionally. Watch the heat, you don’t want the garlic to burn.
  • Add the beet greens and cook until well wilted, stir occasionally. Add the vinegar, hot sauce and crumble the bacon on top. Taste and season with salt, pepper and vinegar.

Serves 4.