This simple sautéed greens recipe uses beet greens and Swiss chard with flavorful cloves of garlic and bright lemon zest to create an easy and nutritious side dish to almost any meal.

Sautéed beet greens and Swiss chard greens plated with a fork.
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My garden is currently exploding with all the leafy greens.

After worm-ageddon last summer on pretty much any vegetable that wasn’t a leafy green, I decided to basically only grow lettuce, greens and some root vegetables this year.

So far, no pests have made their debut which is great.

However, almost everything I planted is now at its peak at the same time and needing to be harvested asap!

Aka- we’re eating A LOT of sautéed greens.

I mean, I guess there could be worse and definitely less healthier problems to have so I’m not really complaining.

This sautéed greens recipe is one that can hardly be considered a real recipe but more so a method.

You can choose any greens you happen to have on hand, not just beet greens and Swiss chard and this simple sauté method will work.

It’s a wonderful way to take a large volume of greens (they cook down significantly) and turn it into a quick, easy and nutritious side dish with lots of flavor.

Rainbow Swiss chard stems and beet greens stems with a bowl of greens in the background.


  • 1 bunch Swiss chard with stems
  • 1 bunch beet greens with stems
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • lemon zest


This “recipe” works with so many leafy greens so don’t feel limited to the beet greens and Swiss chard shown here.

Other options include kale, (especially Tuscan or lacinato kale although it’s best to remove the stems from kale and just cook the greens), spinach, radish greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, collard greens, kohlrabi greens or even broccoli rabe.

Although I tend to like broccoli rabe best as a sautéed side dish with sweet cherries and pine nuts and collards cooked with rice.

If you happen to have escarole and don’t plan on making escarole and beans, that’s another leafy green (which is in the chicory family) that can be used here as well. My favorite side dish featuring escarole, however, is hands down this Utica greens recipe. With prosciutto and pickled cherry peppers, it’s unbeatable in flavor.

Swiss chard and dandelion greens grow like weeds in my garden so they’re often my leafy greens of choice when making this simple sauté.

For recipes that use each green exclusively, try this simple sautéed Swiss chard with tomatoes or this dandelion greens and beans skillet.

Chopped stems from beet greens and rainbow Swiss chard on a cutting board with a knife.


Using such simple ingredients as these, the magic is in the method with this recipe.

First, separate the greens from the stems but don’t discard the stems! They’re packed with nutrition and will be used as well.

Wash and dry both the greens and stems using either a salad spinner (a kitchen gadget I can’t imagine living without in the summer!) or kitchen towel.

Add the olive oil to a large pot or sauté pan with high sides and place over medium heat.

Once hot, add the sliced or chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, about two minutes.

Add the chopped stems to the pot with the garlic and sauté until slightly softened.

Next, add the chopped greens and cover with a lid.

Cook until wilted, about five minutes, then season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes for a hint of spice.

Toss until well combined then remove from the heat, add the lemon zest and serve immediately.

Sautéed Swiss chard and beet greens stems with garlic and olive oil in a pot.


Often, leafy greens get a bad rep for tasting bitter. And surely some do, especially when eaten raw.

Looking at you, dandelion greens!

That’s why this sautéed greens recipe uses both garlic and lemon zest to mask any unwelcome bitterness and trick your tastebuds into enjoying some nutritious greenery.

Letting the garlic cloves cook for a couple minutes in the olive oil before adding the stems and greens infuses the olive oil with a delicious garlicky flavor that then coats all the greens once they’re in the pot.

The red pepper flakes (if using) add a touch of heat that then gets balanced with the brightness and fresh pop of flavor from the lemon zest at the end.

Once seasoned appropriately with salt and pepper, any untoward taste you might’ve associated with leafy greens in the past becomes a distant memory.

Beet greens and Swiss chard greens in a pot with olive oil and garlic and wooden spoon.


For an oil free version of sautéed greens, you can substitute broth.

Vegetable broth or chicken broth can both be used in place of oil.

Sauté the garlic with the broth the same way you would with the oil and follow the recipe directions from there.

Water can also be used as a last resort but broth will provide more flavor to the finished sautéed greens.

Sautéed greens in a pot with wooden spoon.


Sautéed greens are full of nutrients!

While each green will vary slightly, leafy greens are rockstars in the nutrition world.

We’ve all heard the saying “eat your greens!” and it’s more than an old wives tale, it’s true for good reason!

Most greens are packed with vitamins such as C, A and K, contain healthy doses of fiber and usually provide calcium, magnesium and potassium as well.

And of course, they’re extremely low in calories.

These greens also contain an abundance of carotenoids which are antioxidants that protect cells and can play a role in cancer prevention.

Plated recipe for sautéed greens with garlic and lemon zest.


These simply sautéed leafy greens make such an easy and delicious side dish to almost any meal.

You can eat them alongside a protein and carbohydrate for a more “traditional” type of meal.

Try them with air fryer cod, pan seared duck breast or Instant Pot brisket for a few suggestions.

The greens also make a great addition to any kind of buddha bowl type of meal. Think something along the lines of these Greek brown rice bowls or these shredded Mexican beef bowls.

Usually, buddha bowls consist of a healthy grain, protein, vegetable and fat. The premise is to eat a variety of things in a bowl for a balanced meal. Usually, they are vegetarian in nature.

Sautéed greens like these beet greens and Swiss chard are the perfect addition to that type of meal!

Finished recipe for sautéed beet greens and Swiss chard with stems, garlic and olive oil.

And don’t forget about the root vegetables that grow beneath some of these leafy greens!

If you’re using turnip greens in this recipe, try this roasted turnip recipe to go alongside the greens.

For beet greens, this golden beet gratin or these beet chips are great options.

And, roasted radishes with rosemary are an easy way to use up radishes from radish greens.


I hope you enjoy this simple and versatile side dish.

It’s the perfect way to embrace summer greens or the bounty from a CSA share or farmer’s market in a healthy and delicious way!

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5 from 54 votes

Sautéed Beet Greens and Swiss Chard

Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
sautéed beet greens and Swiss chard
This simple sautéed greens recipe uses beet greens and Swiss chard with flavorful cloves of garlic to create an easy and nutritious side dish to almost any meal.


  • 1 bunch beet greens
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • pinch red pepper flakes, optional
  • Kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • zest of 1 lemon


  • Cut off stems of both beet greens and Swiss chard then chop. Roughly chop the leafy greens. Use a salad spinner to wash and thoroughly dry both stems and greens separately.
  • Add olive oil to a large sauté pan with high sides or a pot over medium heat.
  • Once hot, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Add chopped stems and cook for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened.
  • Add the greens to the pot, season with salt and pepper and cover until wilted, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir to combine, add a pinch of red pepper flakes if using and cook 1 more minute.
  • Turn off the heat, add the lemon zest and transfer to serving plate or bowl.


This recipe can be made with almost any greens. Radish greens, mustard greens, collard greens or kale (discard stems for kale) are all good substitutes.


Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 55kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 2gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 244mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: American
Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I love how bright and delicious this dish is! I didnt think I would like the beet greens as well, but I ended up loving everything!

  2. 5 stars
    I always tell people not to throw away the beet tops because they have so much potassium. Your recipe was so easy to make and I loved the vibrant colors in it. I served it with broccoli casserole which turned out to be the perfect meal.

  3. This was a super healthy side dish that was really easy. I hate throwing away the beet greens and this was a delicious way to use them! I ate the rest for breakfast under an egg!