In praise of beet stems

Veggie mishmash

Originally uploaded by tanglethis

I didn’t learn to like beets until I moved north. To be fair, I’d only ever had them out of a can, or boiled, or both. But finally a couple of more experienced cooks roasted beets in my vicinity, and I realized that they are in fact delicious and versatile.

Around that same time, I learned that you can eat beet leaves. Even so, it never occurred to me to eat beet stems until my CSA farmer sent us a recipe for them. Beet stems are a little sweet, like the root, but with less of that earthy beet flavor. They are very useful for filling out a dish that already has a couple of chopped vegetables – risotto, bean salad, random veggie mishmash – and I love the idea of using almost every part of a vegetable.

Beet stems are very fibrous, so they need to be softened with cooking – I find that roasting them with beet wedges or tossing them in a very hot skillet for a few minutes does the trick. Sometimes, as I chop them into inch-long pieces, I pull away some of the outer fibers; some stems might just be too woody to eat, and can go in with the stock veggies.

For lunch today I coated the stems, a sliced garlic clove, and some thinly sliced zucchini in a smidge of oil and balsamic, then sauteed them until the zucchini began to get translucent. I tossed some white beans, basil, and shredded carrot in the remainder of the oil and vinegar and added those to the pan. It was delicious eaten hot – savory and a little sweet – but you could probably also eat this cool, in a pasta salad or on top of greens.


Filed under Reckless Recipes

6 responses to “In praise of beet stems

  1. I googled ‘beet stems’ and got this post–thanks for encouraging me to try the stems! They’re delicious and surprisingly mild in taste… mmmmm. I just sautéed mine with garlic and olive oil.

  2. Joanna

    I did the same thing as Rosa–googled “how to cook beet stems” and found your post. Made my own only without beans since I was out. I used pesto instead of just basal and it is tasty!!

  3. Joan

    Just found this page as looking for ways to use beet stems (I hate throwing things out!) I shall chop them up and freeze in small bags to use for soups in the winter. May also start a “veggie bag” for soup broth.
    Thank you
    Joan – August 30, 2011

  4. Excellent in soups and also as a stir-fry veggie.

  5. Kayla

    I saw this recipe and was inspired to make a recipe of my own I thought I’d share; garlic cloves (chunky) green beans and beet stems, and sliced apple, sautéed in balsamic vinegar, rice bran oil, and agave nectar. I covered it and once they got a little soft I added a who portobello mushroom in the middle as well as some beet root leaves. Covered and cooked until everything was tender it was so delicious on top of a slice of eziekiel toast. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  6. kaye

    Ive just finished boiling my beets and was thinking what can i do with the leaves and stems, and came across this posting ..thanks