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Confession time: I’m a convert.

Red BeetIf you can believe it (I can’t), I once said (on this very blog!) and I quote: “Some raw food types grate them into obscurity or juice them in order to eat them, but I don’t recommend it. ”

Ah, the ignorance of youth! Or at least the fears of a beet newbie. You know what’s awesome? You know what is possibly the greatest salad in the history of salads?

Raw Beet Salad.




grated beetsRed.

Cut beetrootBeets.beetroot closeupI know! I astound even myself. Or, rather, Mark Bittman does.

Red beets are indeed bloody and gory (and, not to be too déclassé, but seriously – put a note in the bathroom that you ate beets yesterday. Seriously. Especially if you have kids. You’ll think someone’s hemorrhaging. Everyone thinks someone’s hemorrhaging the first time you eat a lot of beets. If you’re pregnant? Forget about it. You’ll be on the way to the emergency room before you remember that you’re only chock-full of vitamins, or, ahem, no longer quite so chock full of vitamins). But the redder they are, the sweeter they are, and though I used to prefer Golden Beets and I still think Candy Cane Beets are just the cutest, if you’re going raw, you’ve got to go red, baby.

DSCF8566This isn’t just because of the taste, though it’s mostly that. The other reason you should go for the red beets (or beetroot if you’re British) is that the other kinds change color really darn quickly. We’ve tried the below salad with golden beets, and they turn greenish-mud and look kind of like a bowl of vomit. The white parts of the chioggia beets turn brown, and when grated you lose all their cuteness (though they might work okay if mandolined and eaten quickly – I can’t say, I haven’t tried it).

But the red beets – grate them or slice them thin enough, and you have sweet, crunchy, earthy, beets coupled with a fresh and bright dressing, offset by the smooth, tangy creaminess of little dabs of goat cheese and rounded out by hearty, silky walnuts. It’s perfection.

Valentine’s Day, however, deserves a little something extra. {Drumroll, please}

Heart Beet SaladRed is great; hearts are better.

Heart Beet Salad
adapted from Mark Bittman’s Raw Beet Salad

I’ve adapted this recipe for 2 adults and 2 young children, because that’s what I serve – If it makes too much for a romantic dinner for two, save the hearts you mangled and the parts you trimmed off the beetroot, grate or slice thin, mix with the dressing, and store in the fridge. It will keep for a couple of days – but mix with the dressing first. Unlike leaf salads in which the dressing makes it soggy, the vinegar here helps keep the beets from losing their color – but only for a day or two. Then they’ll get soggy, too.

1-2 large shallots, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, or to taste
1/2-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (the original recipe uses sherry vinegar; we prefer champagne; red wine vinegar is too strong)
1-2 sprig fresh tarragon, minced
1/8-1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves (a nicely-sized ripped off bunch)
*the measurements vary depending on how much dressing you like. Start on the low end of all if you’re not sure or don’t like everything drowned. Make the higher amount if you don’t mind leftover dressing, and then dress to taste.

2-3 medium beets – if you’re making hearts, the more spherical, the better
1-2 inch log of goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 c walnuts, crumbled

In a small bowl, whisk together salt, pepper, mustard, oil, and vinegar. Taste to adjust seasonings (keep in mind you’ll be adding herbs – taste for ratios of oil to vinegar, and saltiness, not so much for exact flavor). Stir in shallots. Avoid mixing herbs into dressing to save a step – the whisking and tossing bruises the leaves and makes them lose a little of their floral sweetness.

To make beet hearts:

Peel beets. Cut off the top and bottom where the greens sprout and where it gets spindly – you want a nice-looking circle with two flat sides.

beet circlePlacing one flat side down, cut in half (lengthwise if it’s not a perfect circle). Working with one half-circle, cut the bottom round edge off at a diagonal – this will be the bottom edge of half a heart. beet heart

Trim the top edge to remove the corner and round it out.

Beet Heart Half Repeat with the other half-circle.

Beet Heart CompleteTurn round side facing up and slice into very thin slices. Place two halves next to each other to form hearts on the plate.

My heart on a plate

Crumble goat cheese and walnuts on top, drizzle with dressing, and sprinkle with minced herbs.

Grated Beet SaladIf you want to just make the grated salad version:

Peel the shallot and the beets and put them through the shredder blade of the food processor, or pulse to grate. Don’t overprocess.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dressing, leaving out the herbs. Toss the dressing with the shredded beets, then toss briefly with herbs. If you’re making it for a crowd, you can sprinkle the goat cheese and walnuts on top now, and serve, but if you’re making individual plates, dish up the beets first, then crumble goat cheese and walnuts on top so that the beets don’t turn the cheese pink. (Vegans: the original has no goat cheese and is also awesome.)

Info on peeling, seasonality, etc. is the same as Golden Beets.


A note: It takes a lot of time and effort to create these posts. I share the information I’ve found because I want to be helpful, but I’m also a professional writer, and other people pay me for my work. Please, please, STOP STEALING MY POSTS. I don’t disable copying because the majority of lovely, honest people who come around might want to copy and paste the recipes to their computers – but I also really, really don’t like thievery. If you find my information useful, please give credit where it’s due, and post a link to my page! The vegetables, the universe, karma, and your mother will thank you. And I won’t have to get all high-security up in here or shut the whole thing down.