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beet-tops-or-spinach-and-courgette-tartlets by food to glowI didn’t scare you off with the beet tops, did I? Good. It’s just that with beets coming in thick and fast (with any luck), I’ve discovered that these brilliant, long-stemmed leaves can also be put to good use. And seeing as a one-cup cooked serving offers 220% of vitamin A, 60% of vitamin C, 16% of calcium, and 15% of iron I suppose it would be churlish not to. Wouldn’t it?

I haven’t always been so aware of their value. For years I have been willy-nilly hacking off the pretty red-veined leaves and composting them. This makes for very nutritious compost, I’m sure. But a few years ago I saw something on good old, much-maligned Twitter about using beet greens with pasta and, after a few plays around, I hit upon my own really quite delectable stir-fried beet green ‘sauce.’ Well, it isn’t quite a sauce, more of a topping. I will share it very soon and you can be the judge. It takes all of five minutes to prepare so is perfect for a weeknight supper. It’s just not desperately photogenic, so you may have to use your imagination and read the ingredient list to convince you. 🙂

beet tops and courgette phyllo tartletsToday’s recipe is arguably more photo-ready. It is a miniaturised redux of one of my most popular recipes I take into work, my Spinach and Feta Pie. Not only is it in cute, versatile tartlet form but I’ve added seasonal courgettes (sometimes I use grated broccoli), reduced the phyllo per serving (thus reducing the wheat-based carbohydrate content), cut the butter/oil and introduced a bit of subtle spice.

If you don’t have beet tops – either from your own efforts in the garden or from store-bought bunches – use spinach or the near-comparable chard. Or a mixture if you have just a little of everything. Radish leaves and turnip tops are also welcome. Perhaps I should maybe rename this the Waste Not Want Not Pie. My grandmother would be proud. 🙂

fresh garden vegetables by food to glow

Fresh from the garden at Maggies Cancer Caring Centre, Edinburgh. Grown by Karen Laing, our talented landscape architect and gardener

Just a note about the photos: the images show tartlets rather pale of pastry. I make them up this way (mostly-baked) and take them in to work for a quick, burnishing blast in the oven by one of our talented Wednesday volunteers (thank you Jim, Rob and Barbara!). So, while I am teaching and generally having a grand old time chatting to my lovely class, they are carefully baking the final result. I suppose I could ask them to take some snaps, but I figured it is probably too much to ask of someone who is not only baking your class’s food, but also greeting a steady stream of Centre visitors, answering questions and serving hot beverages. They are quite the multi-taskers. Which I am not. Hence, the slightly anaemic look. Well, that’s my excuse.

So, back soon with the sauce that’s not quite a sauce, as well as some snappy, healthy Provencal nut crackers that will be perfect for back-to-school lunch boxes. School lunch boxes. I didn’t scare you again, did I?

beet tops and courgette tartlet

Beet Tops {or Spinach} and Courgette Phyllo Tartlets {lower carb, lower fat + vegan option}

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 A delicious and easy way to use beet tops, but of course use spinach or chard if you aren’t fortunate to get beets with tops (the latter tastes quite similar to beet tops).

As you can see, my beet tops have a few holes as they were grown organically at the cancer centre where I work, but I just trim round these and use everything else – including the stems. I have served these to the unsuspecting and no one knew they were beet tops. 

Oh, by using beans instead of cheese this is easily made dairy-free but still with a good amount of protein. I’m suggesting a bit of chopped olive to make for the cheese’s absence. Or use a little salt. Middle Eastern dukkah or za’atar spice mix add an exotic and interesting twist on ‘normal’ spinach pie. Enjoy!

6 spring onions/scallions, trimmed and finely sliced (greens and white)

150-200g beet tops (leaves and stems), chard or spinach, washed and chopped

1 small courgette, zucchini, summer squash, grated

4 eggs (use equivalent of Ener-G or Orgran if wanting a vegan option)

zest ½ lemon

100g feta cheese, crumbly goats cheese OR cooked white beans {add a tbsp of chopped olives or 1/2 tbsp vegan tapenade for the latter, perhaps}

2 large sheets phyllo/filo pastry (more if you want a thicker crust, but two is fine for a small, shallow tart)

2 tbsp za’tar or dukkah

Non-stick oil spray

A little butter or oil, optional for brushing the pastry

You will also need: individual-sized loose-bottomed pastry or flan tins OR a well-buttered ‘jumbo’ muffin tin; baking tray if using individual pastry cases

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350F. Oil-spray or lightly butter the tins.

2. Steam or boil the greens until soft – time will depend on which you use, with spinach needing just two minutes. Drain, let cool a bit then press or squeeze out the liquid. Chop finely and set aside.

3. Lightly beat the eggs/prepare the vegan ‘eggstitute’ and stir in the lemon rind.

4. Take the two phyllo sheets and lay on a clean worksurface, one atop the other. Slice into eight even squares. Take one pair of phyllo squares and, with an eye to the diameter of the holes in the tin you are using, draw the edges in, slightly rolling and folding it in on itself as you go. You are aiming for a soft, ruffle-edged circle to push into the tin: it should look like a shower cap for a doll. If you have ever made pasties or hand-crimped a pie, the technique is similar.

Don’t worry if this stumps you: just push the squares into the tin holes/pastry cases for now. If you have made your ‘shower caps’ then push them into the tin.

5. The easy bit now. Assembling. Sprinkle the chopped spring onion evenly between the cases, followed by the chopped greens and courgette. Pour over the egg, dot with the crumbled cheese (or add the beans and olives) and sprinkle over the spice mix. Place individual tartlet cases on a baking tray – if using.DSC_0312

beet top and courgette tartlet

this is my lower fibre version, with 1 tbsp spinach per serving, no courgettes or onions, za’atar infused in the egg and then sieved.

7. If you didn’t already shape the pastry, roll the overhanging pastry in towards the filling, tucking it in as you work around each tartlet. You will be overlapping the pastry as you go. Those used to working with phyllo should just use whatever technique they like. Brush the edges with a little melted butter or oil, if you so desire. When I make these for work I part bake the tartlets without any oil or butter but – just before whacking them in the oven for a final crisping blast – I anoint the edges with a little oil. Just to give nice shine.

8. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or less depending on your oven and the depth of your muffin tins/ pastry cases. I used wide, shallow cases and this time is for these. Yours may need up to 30 minutes. The filling should be just firm and the pastry edges golden.

9. Allow to cool for a bit before carefully removing from the tin and crisping on a wire rack, removing any ‘loose bottoms’ of course.beet top and courgette tartlet

Getting ahead: Bake until the filling has barely set and the pastry is still quite pale, but cooked. Allow to cool, then either open freeze and decant into a labeled bag or container, or pop into a container and continue baking the next day. I tend to do this for my nutrition classes. For cooking from frozen, just add an extra five minutes.

Serving Suggestion: I usually serve this with my Brazilian Black Bean and Pepper Salad, and a leafy salad with seasonal fruit (strawberries or oranges are lovely), avocado, red onion and a vinaigrette made with one of my homemade Fruit Vinegars. Sometimes I make this Moroccan Carrot Salad instead of the Brazilian one. Followed by my gluten-free/dairy-free Lemon-Berry Polenta Cake. 

lemon-berry polenta cake

lemon-berry polenta cake

These tartlets are super to take in lunch boxes (fine to eat cold), as an appetiser, and with salads for a lunch or supper course. And they are even good to have for breakfast!

Note: Depending on the depth and size of your tart/muffin cases, you may have some leftover filling. Just carry on if you also have more phyllo. Otherwise maybe make a tiny omelette for yourself. Cook’s perk!

Low-Fiber Diets: 1 tbsp of well-cooked spinach per case, no courgettes or onions, use a little onion power with the egg, season with caution (perhaps infuse the spice mix in the egg at double the quantity for a few hours, then sieve)

Soft Food Diets: Finely chop all vegetables, or puree; pour all into lined and oiled muffin tins (solid bottomed) and leave out the phyllo.

I am entering this in to the No Waste Food Challenge, created by Elizabeth of Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary, and this month hosted  over by Laura of I’d Much Rather Bake Than… Elizabeth is super busy and generous as she is also hosting Simple and In Season for Ren Behan this month. And lastly (this is updated as from 13/3/15) to In My Veg Box for the Courgette theme, this month hosted by SliceOffMe, and founded by Citrus Spice UK.



52 thoughts on “Beet Tops {or Spinach} and Courgette Tartlets {lower-carb, low-fat +vegan option}

  1. Jackie armstrong says:

    These look very lush, will have a go at them, love beet root as well, one my favs is beet root spinach kale and rasb. Mmmmm all blended together in the nutribullet

  2. platedujour says:

    They look beautiful!!

  3. I was introduced to Beet tops in Nova Scotia and just loved them. I’ve used them myself since, I love being able to use the whole vegetable, we throw away so much of the good stuff. The tarts look lovely and fresh and light.

    1. We do indeed. If only most people knew there are very few parts of an edible plant that aren’t edible (ie rhubarb). If we get stuff mainly from supermarkets mostly the ‘extras’ are removed so we don’t get the opportunity for another texture, taste or nutrient contribution. Thanks for stopping by, Janice.

  4. All these photos look so delicious!

  5. Deena Kakaya says:

    Liking the beet top thing my friend! I recently used carrot tops in a salad and wondered why I’d be wasting them all these years because they hold the flavour of whatever is attached to them so well!

    I think I’m going to try this pretty recipe on my boy, his new thing is egg fried rice and it’s one that we would all enjoy, it looks so portable too! Beautiful work xx

    1. I have tried carrot tops too but I have to confess to needing to doctor the hell out of them! But I like these beet greens even just sauteed with a little garlic, and like Katie, with a poached egg. I love free food! I hope your boy likes these. Little food, rather than cut into food is always more appealing to children. And the young at heart. Thanks for commenting, Deena. Loved your feature in Top Sante, my friend. 🙂

  6. talkpro13 says:

    Man I’m hungry.

  7. I love me some beet tops! But this is the prettiest use of them that I’ve seen!

    1. Thank you, Susan. Cooked beet leaves can look a bit sludgy but I disguised them here. 😉

  8. I loooooove beet greens! It makes me so sad when they get thrown away. When I was back in BC we were cooking up beet greens from my mother’s garden practically every day. I like them sautéed with onions and a squeeze of lemon juice, and topped with a poached egg. Yum! I like the idea of half baking these tarts – do you think they’d freeze well at that stage?

    1. Hi Katie. Yes, there are instructions for that under last image (I think it’s there!), but basically it’s cooling on rack, open freezing and popping in freezer container. Just add an extra five minutes onto the time. Yay! Fellow beet top lover. Like my second commenter, Janice. And she picked that up recently in Nova Scotia! You Canadians 😉

  9. They look gorgeous!!!

  10. Beautiful as usual and I didnt realise Maggies had a veg patch, thats brilliant. Lovely photos.

    1. It’s new this year. We don’t have much space but Karen our gardener has wrought miracles. And got some snazzy containers!

  11. Liz Posmyk of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things says:

    My mouth is watering!

  12. Jackie armstrong says:

    I guess if we stick to organic shops and proper little fruit and veg shops kellie most of the tops will be left on the veg

    1. Absolutely, Jackie. And if we have space, beets are ridiculously easy to grow. Or you could nick some next time you are up at Maggie’s!

      1. Jackie armstrong says:

        Sounds good I will nick some from Maggie’s, always fancied my own little veg patch, but as you say space is the issue

  13. Sophie33 says:

    I made these tasty beauties!
    They were fantastic & so appetizing too! 🙂 MMMM,..they were! xxx

    1. Oh fab! Thanks for the feedback, Sophie 🙂

  14. flytpercy says:

    These look really good, and I love the idea of using white beans as a dairy alternative instead of the usual cashew, nut etc “cheese.”

    1. As much as the cashew cheese is good, sometimes it is nice to use something else. White beans and black olives are a pretty good complement to the other flavours in this recipe. Glad you like it. 🙂

  15. These are really pretty and look so good! I am a big fan of beet greens.

    1. Certainly beet greens are much more commonly used in the US than the UK. My grandmother used to use them all the time. Mainly boiled up with a side of bacon!

  16. mmmarzipan says:

    Amazing! Want!!!

  17. These tartlets look gorgeous and the pictures are stunning 🙂

  18. They look wonderful Kellie and I could do with one right about now. i was in the mood for something eggy at lunchtime, but my last 2 eggs were out of date.

  19. They are very cute Kellie! I bet those flavours are just delicious together.

  20. Urvashi Roe says:

    I harvested both of these veggies today so this is on the menu this week for a mid week supper. I do love that dukkah version too. Great idea

  21. kathygiddins says:

    These look delicious- I must try them out some day 🙂

  22. Elizabeth says:

    I am madly in love with greens just now as they are appearing in our veg box in abundance. What a gorgeous way to use bits that are normally thrown out! I love it!

  23. Christina says:

    So cute and perfect for brunch!

  24. Such beautiful pictures! This looks delicious.

  25. Jackie armstrong says:

    Hi kellie. Is it safe to juice the beetroot leaves, or do the have to be cooked. X

    1. Hi Jackie. As long as you don’t have any history of gout or hypothyroidism you’re good to juice. But I wouldn’t have too much in a juice. A handful, max.

      1. Jackie armstrong says:

        Hi kellie. I have whooping cough at the moment, have had for 8 month also secondary breast cancer in the liver would it still be ok to use? X

      2. Sorry to hear you are so unwell Jackie. You must be exhausted. Because of the liver I would hold back on them raw. I don’t know how juicing and drinking lots of these would affect liver but it’s best to be safe and mot give the liver too much extra to breakdown. Espesh if on chemo. Normal but healthy diet best. Get more than five a day if possible and low sugar too.

  26. thefolia says:

    Viva la beet! I can’t wait to try this recipe. Happy Nesting!

  27. Laura says:

    I love your use of fill pastry to make these lighter. I had no idea beet tops could be eaten – it really makes you think what we are throwing out which could easily be used in recipes like this one.

  28. Elizabeth says:

    A beautiful recipe! Love, love, love this! Thank you for sharing with Simple and in Season and the No Waste Food Challenge.

  29. Mayuri Patel says:

    tartlets look simply yummy. Will try them out using spinach. I’ve not had the opportunity to taste beet top, but will try when I get some.

  30. I love how you have so many versions for this recipe and that it’s a great way to eat that part of the beet that most people just bin including me , I have used carrot tops before but never thought of beet tops. Thanks for linking up with In My Veg Box Kellie!

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