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Beets and Their Greens with Marjoram and Pine Nuts

by Chef Deborah Madison

Beets and Their Greens with Marjoram and Pine Nuts

Salad of golden beets and red onions with marjoram sauce

Makes 4 servings


Beet Salad


  1. Toss the onions with vinegar nearly to cover and refrigerate until needed. They will turn bright pink.
  2. Discard the beet stems and any leaves that are yellowed or wilted, wash the rest, and steam until tender, about five minutes. Set aside to drain, then chop coarsely. Toss with a little olive oil and season lightly with salt.
  3. Leaving an inch of the stems and the tails on the beets, steam until a knife pierces them easily, about 25 minutes. Slip off the skins. Trim the tops and tails, quarter them, and sprinkle with a little of the vinegar.
  4. Make the pesto, setting aside half the toasted pine nuts for a garnish. Toss the beets with it, leaving ample streaks throughout. Place them over the greens. Remove the onions from the vinegar and strew them over the beets. Garnish with the reserved pine nuts and serve.

Marjoram Pesto with Capers and Olives



  1. Remove the crusts from the bread, then soak the bread in the vinegar on a plate.
  2. Pound the garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a mortar until smooth, then work in marjoram, capers, pine nuts, parsley and olives, until you have a coarse puree. Add the bread and the olive oil and work until the pesto is well amalgamated. Season with pepper, taste for vinegar, and add a little more if you think it needs it. The pesto will be very thick.

Deborah Madison notes: At the farmer's market, beets usually come with their greens, which are uncommonly lush and fresh. Even though they may look tough, they cook quickly to tenderness and their flavor is mild and sweet. Marjoram is an absolutely delicious herb with beets, every bit as companionable as the more common dill.

This segment appears in show #2802.

Recipe reprinted from Local Flavors, Broadway Books 2002
© 2002 Deborah Madison
Used with permission

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Published August 31, 2007