A series of seasonal market recipes

Beets are the most beautiful vegetable on earth, I think. When in the company of beets I think of what Tom Robbins said in Jitterbug Perfume: “The beet is the most intense of vegetables.” In that book a mysterious and sexy quest culminated with beets. In my own quest for the sexiest salad ingredient, Beets command my undying devotion.

This salad is a simple as can be. It’s the other recipe I make for covered dish dinners when I don’t make my Cucumber Wasabi Soup. This intensely colorful salad, using perfume terminology, is a graceful blend of zesty top notes, sweet middle notes, and savory base notes. I serve it with grilled or poached salmon, along side yellow corn on the cob, for the most colorful, perfectly blended summer meal that can be assembled on a plate.


Don’t be intimidated. This is a simple salad that follows a simple process. <1> Cook beets with eggs. <2> Put onions & cukes in pickle. <3> Make dressing.  <4> Assemble salad.  That’s it. Many steps can be done days ahead, then assembled when ready. And the salad can be prepared 2–3 hours ahead.

Market Beet Salad

[ serves 4 ]

1-1/2 lbs beets (4-6 medium size). Use a mixed of varieties if available

3 tsp salt

2–4 eggs

1 Tbls fresh dill, coarsely chopped

Pickled Onions & Cucumbers, below

Honey-Mustard Dressing, below


Prepare beets and eggs

•  In saucepan place un-peeled (unwashed is OK) whole beets, eggs, salt, and enough water to cover

•  Bring to rapid boil, then turn down to moderate boil

•  After 10 minutes remove eggs. Place in ice cold water. Peel and set aside

•  Continue cooking beets another 10–15 minutes, until sharp knife pierces easily to center

•  Drain beets and cover with cold water (can add ice). Let cool until they can be handled. Slip off skins and tops. Pat dry with paper towel.

Beets and eggs can be prepared a day or two ahead

Cooked beets are easy to peel beets by slipping off skins


Ice makes the onions and cucumbers super crisp

Pickled Onions & Cucumbers

1 small onion, a red or sweet variety, very, very thinly sliced (approx. 1/2 cup separated)

2 medium cucumbers, diced (approx. 2/3 cups)

½ tsp salt

½ tsp sugar

Generous amount of black pepper


•  Place all ingredients in bowl

•  Cover with 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water and top with 4–5 ice cubes. Set aside while preparing dressing


Honey-Mustard Dressing

I use yellow mustard for its bright sunny color and turmeric flavor

[ Makes ¾ cup ]

¼ cup yellow mustard

¼ cup mild flavored oil—canola or walnut

2 Tbls honey

1 Tbls vinegar

1 Tbls water

¼ tsp salt

1/2 tsp tarragon, crushed

Add to taste: Cayenne, white & black pepper, and garlic powder


•  Combine all and whisk vigorously to blend

Can be prepared a day or two ahead


Assemble the Salad

Arranged on platter ready for pickled veggies and eggs

•  Drain Pickled Cucumbers & Onions on paper, set aside

•  Slice beets and arrange on platter—in rows or circular pattern

•  Sprinkle on Pickled Onions & Cucumbers. I push most of the cukes to the sides

•  Slice eggs and arrange on platter

•  Drizzle 3–4 Tbls Honey-Mustard Dressing on and between eggs

•  Sprinkle with fresh dill

•  Add generous grinds of black pepper

Can be prepared to this point  2–3 hours ahead, covered loosely

•  Serve with remaining dressing



Beet Notes

•  Pickled Onions & Cucumbers are great in salads. Try them with watermelon and basil, plus a dash of the vinegar

•  You can serve your beet salad on a thin bed of arugula or lettuce

•  Add walnuts, or crumbled goat or blue cheese

•  Add razor thin slices of fennel to the pickled onions

•  When I prepare beets for this dish I always cook extra and make pickled beets—a house specialty to serve as appetizers or on salads. See below…


Bonus: Pickled Beets

Cover sliced or wedged beets with 2 parts vinegar/1 part water. Add sugar, salt, fresh garlic, black pepper, dash of cloves or allspice, some hot pepper, and a good amount of onion slices. Ready to eat in 30 minutes and will keep in the fridge for a week—but not in our house.


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6 Responses

    I'm a big beet fan, too! Just made a quick beet, chevre, avocado, and walnut salad last night, but now I'm wishing we had had this. Maybe tonight . . .

    Thanks for all the great recipes — keep them coming!

    This looks incredible! I'm having a dinner party tomorrow! Beets anyone???

    ... says:

    I'm just crazy about your food posts, Chris. Seasonal recipes + simple instructions + gorgeous photos = happy me.

    Ria says:

    This looks incredible! I usually roast beets in the oven with yams and other veggies, but this makes such a beautiful presentation that I will make it for my luncheon when we celebrate my buds birthday. Can’t wait to make it!!

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