Beets are the bulb portion of the beetroot that is often boiled, steamed, roasted or sliced raw. The outer leaves of the beetroot, beet greens, can be eaten as well and are mild in flavor, especially when sauteed in a little olive oil.
Beets are quite popular in salads, but I thought we could add a little more flavor by pickling the beets first and then tossing them with mixed greens. Pickling or brining, is a simple process of adding vinegar, water, sugar, salt and sometimes herbs to a pan to boil and then pouring the liquid over vegetables, fruits or sometimes meat.
When you pickle roasted beets, it only takes a few hours for the brine to absorb because the beets are warm and more pliable after cooking. Pickled beets tossed in a salad of mixed greens with just a hint of light dressing is a delicious springtime touch. The pickled beets will last in the refrigerator for up to 10 days, so you will most likely have enough for several salads during the week!
3 large fresh red beets, greens removed and saved for another use
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 cup mixed greens
1 avocado, sliced
2 ounces fresh feta cheese, crumbled by hand
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup white balsamic or champagne vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil + more for roasting
(Serves 4 + extra beets)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the beets gently under running water to remove any dirt. Place the beets in the center of a piece of heavy duty foil and drizzle with olive oil. Fold the foil over the top of the beets to seal and place them on a sheetpan to roast in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes. If your beets are smaller is size, decrease the time. The beets are done when a knife can be easily inserted. Remove the beets from the oven and open up the foil to allow to cool for handling.
2. Using a paring knife, peel the outer skin from the beets. Set the beets on top of a piece of parchment to protect your counter or board from being stained. You can wear gloves, but I don’t mind pink fingers temporarily.
3. Cut each beet into 6 wedges and set aside while you make your pickling liquid. In a small pot over medium heat, add the 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup water, salt and sugar. Stir the liquid to combine and let come to a boil. Turn off the heat and place the fennel seeds into a 1 pint mason jar, followed by the sliced beets.
4. Pour the hot liquid over the beets to cover and allow the jar to rest, uncovered for 30 minutes.
5. After the jar is cool enough to handle, place the lid on top and put in the refrigerator to cool at least 2 hours before using.
6. When ready to serve the salad, place the mixed greens in a bowl. Top with the sliced avocado, crumbled feta and of course your pickled beets.
7. In another small jar with fitted lid, combine all the vinaigrette ingredients plus a pinch of salt and pepper and shake vigorously. Drizzle the vinaigrette lightly over the salad and toss to combine. Serve on your favorite plates, enjoy!