About this Recipe
This simple salad is almost a quick pickle, using a bright vinaigrette to balance the beets’ earthy sweetness. A bowl of these enhances just about any meal. There are two tricks to nailing this dish. First, dress the beets while they’re still warm. Second, use more vinegar than you think you’ll need; the warm beets soak it up and their sweetness can handle a lot of sour with aplomb. If you want to make this into a more substantial course — or a perfect lunch — melt some goat cheese onto crusty toast under the broiler and serve that alongside.
Beets are nutrient powerhouses, full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and powerful phytonutrients (their dark purple color is a clear indication of anthocyanins). Using raw vinegar in the dressing adds a probiotic element, and olive oil is one of the healthiest fats on the planet.
4, with leftovers (it gets better in the fridge overnight) Servings
- 4 medium (about 1 lb / 450 g) beets (red or yellow)
- Half a medium red or yellow onion, slivered lengthwise
For the Vinaigrette
- 1/3 cup (60 ml) wine or cider vinegar (wine is preferable for red beets, cider for yellow)
- 1/3 cup (120 ml) olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- A handful (about 1/4 cup / 6 g) of fresh parsley, chives, or dill, chopped
Step 1Cut the top and root ends off the beets and halve or quarter any larger ones so that the pieces are all about the same size (so they finish cooking at the same time). Put the beets in a pot with ample room and cover them in water. Add a fat pinch of salt to the water, cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook the beets for about 25 minutes, or until a sharp knife pierces them with minimal resistance.
Step 2While the beets boil, make the vinaigrette. Most ratios call for about 3:1 oil to vinegar, but we’re going to use 1:1 here. Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, salt, and 4 to 6 twists of black pepper together.
Step 3Remove the beets from the pot using a spider or slotted spoon and place them in a bowl of cold water. After a couple of minutes when they’re cool enough to hold comfortably, use your thumb to rub the skins off; they should slip off easily. Slice the still-warm peeled beets about 1/4 inch (4 mm) thick and place them in a bowl with the onions. Pour in about 2/3 of the vinaigrette and toss well to coat them all. Let them sit for half an hour if you can, then add the chopped herbs and some more vinaigrette to give everybody a fresh, shiny coat. Serve.
Substitutions: Carrots, or even small white turnips, can work well in place of the beets. For the dressing, especially if you’re using dill as the herb, try adding ¼ cup of yogurt.
Level Up: Make your own vinegar
Zero Waste: Beet stems can be grilled, sautéed, pickled, or added to stocks. Cook beet greens like you would Swiss chard or spinach. Once cool, the beet cooking water can be used in baking to add a lovely pink or yellow hue and a bit of flavor to breads.
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