Top-to-Tail Eating: Beet Greens, Carrot Tops and more!

December 03, 2016 2 min read

The leaves of root vegetables often get overlooked, fated for the compost bin, a stock or (gasp!) the trash. Don't waste this nutritious and delicious part of the plant, for not only are they edible, but they can be featured as a main ingredient in your next winter dish! Wilt, braise, pulse and stir-fry your tops to a more sustainable way of cooking!

Beet green recipe ideas, adapted from Mother Nature Network, for any level home cook.

  1. Beet Greens and Feta Pasta – Wilted beet greens, sauteed onions and garlic, along with a little pasta water make a simple sauce for Penne pasta that’s topped with Feta.
  2. Grilled Goat Cheese Pizza with Figs, Beets, and Wilted Greens – Sweet figs and tangy goat cheese pair with beets and their greens on this pizza that’s perfect now that we’re all firing up our grills.
  3. Lemon and Butter Braised Beet Greens – Simple and quick, this side dish comes together in less than 10 minutes.
  4. Spicy Beet Green Crostini – Beet greens are sauteed with red chile pepper flakes and garlic, then placed on top of toasted baguette slices.
  5. Salad of Edible Radish, Beet & Carrot Top Green – This no-waste recipe uses the tops from three different root vegetables and tops them with a vermouth vinaigrette. Add any other salad topping you like.
  6. Tasty Greens Dip- This garden-greens purée makes a delicious dip, spread or side dish. You can use super-nutritious kale or any combination of collards, beet greens or turnip greens.

 Chef April Bloomfield practices a nose-to-tail philosophy in the kitchen, as well as what she calls, "top-to-tail" cooking with vegetables. Here is her recipe for using carrot tops from Saveur.

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1⁄2 lb. small carrots with green tops (2 carrots peeled, remaining carrots scrubbed and trimmed, leaving 1" green tops, leaves and tender stems reserved)
2 1⁄2 tsp. flake sea salt, such as Maldon
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic (3 unpeeled and lightly crushed, 1 peeled)
1⁄2 cup packed basil leaves
1⁄2 cup walnuts
1⁄4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
8 oz. burrata or fresh mozzarella, drained
2 1⁄2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice


1) Heat oven to 500°. Heat 1⁄4 cup oil in a 12″ ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Add trimmed carrots and 1 tsp. salt; cook, turning carrots as needed, until browned, 6–8 minutes. Add butter and crushed garlic; roast until carrots are tender, 10–12 minutes.

2) Pulse three-quarters of carrot leaves and stems, 1 tsp. salt, the peeled garlic, 1⁄4 cup basil, the walnuts, and parmesan in a food processor until coarsely ground. Add 3⁄4 cup oil; purée into a smooth pesto.

3) Arrange roasted carrots on a serving platter with burrata. Using a vegetable peeler, peel remaining 2 carrots into thin ribbons and place in a bowl. Add remaining oil, carrot leaves and tender stems, salt, and basil, plus lemon juice; toss to combine. Sprinkle over carrots and burrata. Spoon about 1⁄3 cup pesto over carrots and sprinkle with more parmesan; serve remaining pesto on the side.