Braised beet greens with toasted walnuts

As my previous post has pointed out, we can never have too many beets for good health. And the leaves of beets are just as magical as the rosy roots. Because beets contain a compound that oxygenates the blood, they can improve athletic performance and keep our little gray cells working in top order. These properties become even more important as we age. In fact, beets are probably the best food we can eat to help ward off the onset of Alzheimer’s and other age-related brain disorders. It’s never too early to incorporate new and healthy foods to our diets. I hope you and your family will try these easy recipes.

Key to prepping beet leaves

If beet leaves are a bit perplexing for you, worry no further. Don’t throw these nutrition powerhouses away! They are easy to cook and very tasty. The secret is to fold the leaf in half and cut away the center ribs, so you can chop them up and throw them in the pan first. They just need to cook a little longer than the greens.

Easiest cooking method ever

I like to stir fry the ribs in a little oil. Then if I want them quite soft, I add a tablespoon of water to the pan to steam them, covered, for a minute or two. If you enjoy a crunchy texture, this step is not necessary. Finally, I add the leaves and a little salt and pepper, then stir fry until the leaves wilt. Finish with a teaspoon or two of lemon juice or vinegar. So easy! If you like more spice to your veggies, add some sliced garlic and a shake of chili flakes to the pan with the greens.

Fancier cooking method

Although fancier, the recipe below is still easy enough. The flavors are just a little more complex and the texture is softer, more like a chutney. Try it!

The result tastes great as a side for chicken or pork. You can make it without the walnuts if you want to cut the calories. But walnuts are super good for your health and enhance the earthy undertones of the dish. Walnuts are the only nut that contains a relatively high percentage of the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid, which is especially beneficial for heart health and is said to help guard against stroke. It reduces inflammation and improves the composition of blood fats.

Braised beet greens with toasted walnuts

Serves 4 as a side but the amounts can be halved to serve 2

  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bunch beet greens (about 12 ounces)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar
  1. Swish leaves and stems vigorously in a big bowl of water to remove the sand from the leaves, which also gets lodged between the ridges of the stems.
  2. Cut the stem and the thick part of the center rib from each leaf. The easiest way to do this is to fold the leaf in half along the rib. Chop the stems and leaves separately.
  3. In a large skillet, toast the walnuts over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer nuts to a plate.
  4. Heat the same skillet with the oil and butter. When melted, add the onion, salt, and pepper, stirring occasionally until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the beet stems and 2 tablespoons water, then cook until softened, about 2 minutes
  6. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute
  7. Add the beet greens, vinegar, plus another tablespoon of water or so if the pan looks dry. Cover and cook 3-4 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Uncover and cook 1 minute more.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top with the toasted walnuts.

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