Beets and greens salad with mint, almonds and lemon

Last few weeks have been a sweet overdose for me.. You know what I mean, right? Cakes and cookies and chocolates and truffles and sweet breads: you name it and this holiday season I have ate it! Since I am one of those minority people who are low on a sweet-tooth, a sweet overdose of this magnitude is likely to take me off sweets for a while.. or may be just for a few days, we'll see, depends on how hard the box of cookies and chocolates sitting on my dining table stares at me (like that Geico add where the money stares at people!) :D

Anyway, today morning I just wanted to eat a simple and light lunch to make up for all the desserts that I have had last few weeks (and particularly yesterday!). I looked in the pantry and saw a bunch of golden and red beets that I had bought from farmer's market last week. I instantly thought of my favorite beet salad! I started making this recipe a year or so ago; the origin of which comes from one of my most treasured cookbooks "Vegetarian cooking for everyone" by Deborah Madison. This is a great book and I'll highly recommend it to anyone who cooks or wants to cook simple vegetarian foods most of the time (no ties with Amazon). I refer to this book not so much for the ready to go recipes but more for the information about a vegetable, like its flavors, how to store, methods of cooking, ideal pairings etc. The book is particularly good in describing flavor pairings for vegetables and seasonings. I guess I use this more as a reference cookbook where I get an idea of a recipe and then eventually make my own version of it. That being told, the book does have excellent recipes too :)

Very recently I figured out that beet greens are perfectly edible (through the same cookbook)! So I am kind of a beet green novice. I use soft baby beet leaves as raw salad greens and mature leaves as steamed or blanched. These is a lot more interesting information about beet greens here; like how in pre-historic times people used to only eat beet greens and discard the beets(!) and to think about all those times that I was just discarding these healthy greens (my forefathers are sure not to be happy with me)!! I would like to use more of these greens in my I am wondering Do you use beet greens? Do you know of any other way to prepare these delicious and healthy beet greens?

Anyway without further ado here is a roasted beet salad with mint, almonds and lemon:
Source: adapter from beet salad recipe of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
Beets (I used 3 medium sized golden beets and 3 medium sized red beets)
Beet greens of the beets you are using (tender preferably -- or substitute with regular salad greens)*
1Tbsp chopped red onion
3Tbsp chopped cilantro
2Tbsp chopped mint
handful of roasted slivered almonds (or any nuts for texture)
1Tbsp capers (optional)

Juice of half a lemon
zest of a lemon - (Don't skip this, lemon zest is a big flavoring of this salad)
olive oil - per taste
salt & pepper
Pinch of crushed red chili flakes

A note about beet greens: Beet greens taste parallel to chard leaves to me. I find that greens from the baby beets are soft enough to eat them raw similar to spinach leaves. If the beets are mature though then the leaves seem a bit tough and its best to blanch them or steam them instead of eating raw. Either way, you can always substitute spinach or salad greens in place of the beet greens or omit the greens altogether (and answer you doctor later :D).

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Scrub the beets gently to remove dirt. Remove the leaves. Do not peel the beets (they tend much better to peeling post-roasted). Drizzle with olive oil and black pepper. Roast for 40-60 mins (depending on the size). The done-ness test is that a pierced knife should come out easily.
  3. If not using beet greens, skip this step: Remove the stem of the leaves. If they are soft enough, use them as raw greens; if not, steam or blanch them for a few minutes before using. If unsure, just blanch :)
  4. Once the roasted beets are cool enough to handle, peel the skin off and cut them into small pieces.
  5. Add chopped greens, onions, cilantro, mint, almonds and capers to the beets.
  6. Meanwhile make a salad dressing combing all of the dressing ingredients mentioned above. Adjust per taste.
  7. Add the dressing to the beet mixture and enjoy!

* The picture above uses salad greens instead of beet greens. (The beets I bought this time did not have greens attached to them) Salad greens is a perfectly good substitute for beet greens in this recipe, but if you do find beets with greens attached to them, then please try the beet greens; they will give the salad a lot more beetiness!

On a happier note, a very warm thanks to Malar of Kitchen Tantra for giving me a Holiday Cheerleading award here. Thanks Malar!

Till next time leaving you with a tip to anyone who may want to photograph a beet salad in future: Please please don't mix the red beets to the salad before plating! As you can see above, they take no time at-all to stain the rest of the salad :(. Next time I would probably plate the salad minus red beets and then add red beets (without mixing) just before the photo.. Hey, you live and learn, right? :)