I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out that you can consume the whole carrot, but here we are. Last year or maybe two years ago now (time is a blur during the pandemic), my mom and I came back from a farmers market trip with beets and carrots. I used to always get annoyed with the giant leafy greens on beets because, well, they’re giant and I didn’t know you could eat them. I’m not sure why, it just never occurred to me. And when you buy carrots at the grocery store, you rarely see them with their greens still attached.
So, as I stared at our beautiful bundles of root veggies, I wondered if we could reduce waste and just cook these up. Turns out you can and they’re delicious! Apparently, beets were originally used for their leaves, too. Keep reading to see some simple ways I use the whole carrot and beet.
How I cook carrot and beet leaves is really not revolutionary, but I figured it doesn’t hurt to share it here.
All I do is wash them thoroughly, then sauté them in olive oil or sesame oil. Lately I’ve really enjoyed cooking with sesame oil. And that’s really it. I don’t even add salt, because beet leaves are already naturally salty and carrots have a nice earthy flavor. When I have both I’ll sauté them together.
One thing that amazes me is how easily the beet stems soften. So it’s easy for everyone to eat.
The leaves of both roots are so versatile, too. I’ve seen online that many people use both greens in salads, to make pesto or chimichurri, as a garnish, in soups, steamed, and all kinds of ways.
I usually make a large pot of veggie soup or borsch once a week, then sauté the greens as a side dish. I love that I’m able to reduce food waste and get more bang for my buck this way!
If you’re interested in making borsch but are intimidated by the process, I have a SUPER lazy and basic recipe that makes it really easy and quick to prepare. Hopefully my Russian and Ukrainian friends aren’t insulted by all the corners I’ve cut here!
Nowadays I make borsch without meat, which is also why it doesn’t take as long. At a bare minimum, all you need are beets, cabbage, carrots, and tomato paste. I chop everything up and throw them into the pot once the water starts boiling and cook until everything is soft enough for my toddler to chew. I used to spend so much time shredding the carrots and beets, but the soup tastes jut as good when they’re chopped.
Occasionally, I’ll sauté the carrots (and onions if I have them) in the pot first to add a little extra flavor, but I think the borsch tastes delicious even without that step.
If I have other veggies on hand, I’ll also add them in, like potatoes, celery, and onions. Traditionally, you’d also use vinegar so you can add that if you like, but I really love the light, sweet taste of the beets.
When you’re ready to eat, you can sprinkle some dill on top and mix in sour cream if you’d like.
Borsch is such a wonderfully hearty meal, I’m so glad I started making this easy version. And I’m grateful to my friends who taught me how to make borsch back in college!
What other veggies, like carrots and beets, do you use the whole veggie for consumption?