This chioggia beet salad is super simple, letting the beautiful bright colors and gently sweet crispness of the beets shine. It takes mere minutes to prepare, too. Enjoy it as a side, appetizer or add a few extras to make it a meal.
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If you're a regular here you'll know I didn't grow up eating beets (beetroot to us from the UK) as my mum wasn't a fan so we just didn't have them. However I know now it's more just she'd only ever tried the vacuum packed pre-pickled versions that are far from the best introduction.
Starting with fresh beets there's much to enjoy, and I have grown to use them more and more in a variety of recipes. They're actually a very versatile vegetable and you can use them both raw and cooked in various ways.
Different types of beet
Most people are familiar with your more common red garden beet (Beta vulgaris, called beetroot in UK/Australia), but there are a few other varieties. These varieties are a bit less common but I have been finding them more and more in the organic section of the supermarket, as well as at the farmers' market.
The two most common other varieties are golden beet and chioggia beet. Golden is more obvious as it's a more orange color on the outside, but chioggia you might not immediately register as being different. Though if you look, you should see it is a lighter pink rather than the classic deep purple color on the outside.
All of them can be similar size and apparently are similar in terms of how easy they are to grow.
What are chioggia beets?
The Chioggia beet is an Italian heirloom variety that dates back to at least 1840. The name is after the town of Chioggia where they were developed. They may be unassuming on the outside, but what makes this variety extra special is how it looks inside.
When you slice these beets you'll find circles of pink and white inside, leading to the nicknames of "candy cane beet" or "bulls eye beet". The exact pattern can vary, from thick to thin stripes, regular circles or more uneven as in the one I have here.
As well as being pretty, the flavor is also a little milder and sweeter. The color doesn't bleed as you cut them so they're less messy to work with. This makes them a great beet to try for anyone that might need a little convincing to try them.
While you can use these beets in the same way as a regular beet, I particularly like using them raw. This is partly due to flavor, but also to make the most of the pretty stripes. When you cook them, the stripes dull and fade so that they can look more like a turnip with a slight smudge on them.
This simple salad is a great way to enjoy their prettiness and lovely crisp flavor, with a few simple additions.
Top tip: slicing raw beet (beetroot)
I think the hardest part of this is making the thin slices - it's easy enough but does need a little care. Start by washing and peeling the outer layer off the beet and if needed, pat dry so that it's not slippy. You can use either a mandoline or a wide vegetable peeler.
Don't feel you need to slice the whole beet - better to save your fingers than get every last slice! You can simply chop the last part and nibble on it.
Ways to vary this salad
I've kept this salad really simple, since the beets speak for themselves, both in appearance and flavor. In fact, it's kind of like a beet carpaccio with a few additions. You can also easily vary the ingredients to suit what you have and to taste. As an example:
- Use other greens - I've used arugula as I think the slight pepperiness pairs really well, but you could use other greens or a blend, such as a mix of spinach and radicchio.
- Skip the cheese (or change it up) - I really like the pairing with goat cheese, but other options work, too. If you prefer other flavors you could use other cheeses such as a blue cheese or feta. Alternatively, if you prefer to make this vegan, you could skip the cheese and it will still be tasty.
- Bulk it out with proteins - while I more think of this as a light, simple salad as lunch maybe with some crusty bread, or as a side, you could also make it a fuller meal with added protein. Some grilled chicken, steak or salmon would all go well.
- Change the dressing - I like the slight sweetness of the maple balsamic vinaigrette here, but a French vinaigrette would also go well. Lemon tahini or a herby dressing could also be good.
- Try other toppings - the added crunch of some toasted almonds works really well here, but so would other toppings. You could try other nuts or some seeds, like pecans, hazelnuts or pepitas. You could also add in some dried fruit like cranberries or cherries for a little extra flavor.
This chioggia beet salad looks impressive thanks to those pretty beets, but it's super simple to prepare. You only need a few ingredients, but they come together so well. It makes a lovely, tasty side salad or light lunch, so be sure to try it soon.
Try these other favorite beet salads:
- Raw beet quinoa salad
- Beet apple salad with maple vinaigrette
- Roasted golden beet salad
- Plus get more side dishes in the archives.
Chioggia beet salad
- 2 tablespoon slivered almonds or sliced
- 1 chioggia beet
- 2 handfuls arugula rocket
- 1 oz goat cheese
For maple vinaigrette
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- Gently toast the almonds in a dry skillet/frying pan or under a broiler/grill. Keep a close eye on them so they turn golden brown but don't burn then set aside to cool.
- Peel the outside layer off the chioggia beet then carefully make thin slices with a mandolin or wide vegetable peeler. Try to make as complete circles as you can but even part slices are good.
- Place the arugula on two plates and top with the slices of beet, crumbled goat cheese and the toasted almonds.
- Shake together the vinaigrette ingredients (oil, vinegar and maple syrup) in a small jar or whisk in a small bowl. Drizzle over the salad and serve.
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