How can this beet salad be so delicious? Easy-peasy! Fresh, seasonal ingredients treated with love and affection. Sweet tender beetroot, tangy Greek yogurt, roasted walnuts, and a slight garlicky kick bring this combo over the top. Do I have to mention that it is super easy and quick to make? Not really because you know already that this is the Mediterranean way of cooking. In fact, it is so easy that comes together faster than you can say “I don’t like beets” (you do but you don’t know it yet).
This post is going to be shorter than usual (yeah, right). It is going to be sweet and quick. 2 reasons: to start with, this beet salad is a ridiculously easy recipe to make and mostly because it’s almost Christmas. I still cannot understand how this happened but here we are: preparing the Christmas menu. This is a super busy period for all food bloggers. So, I am blowing the dust off my family’s recipe notebooks, calling my aunts and cousins, brainstorming with my mother and mother in law, searching online, reading books and magazines. Researching is almost over and the testing phase is about to begin. I am going to spend countless hours in the kitchen until the most delicious Mediterranean Greek Christmas menu is ready. May the “cooking force” be with me!
WHY SHOULD I EAT THIS?
To put it simply, beetroot is a delicious and healthy vegetable. It is an excellent source of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C and it fits well into a balanced diet like the Mediterranean way of eating. This is the theory behind a vegetable that some people love and others avoid like the plague. Ok, I hear you. You are still good people. And then here comes my beet recipe to rock your world and help you establish your relationship with this amazing vegetable. Because this is the perfect salad and/or appetizer to offer to your picky eaters who strongly resist from eating this red “yuck thing that tastes like dirt”. Just propose to them to taste half tablespoon of this dish and they will be hooked forever.
Apart from delicious and healthy, this is a versatile perfect dish to serve from your casual party to your fancy dinner. I am telling you this salad/appetizer turns heads and makes eyes wide open from excitement. Look at its shockingly pink color! Here is a photo to prove my point. It definitely has the wow factor and everyone will be so curious to taste. And then they will be hooked too and you will be proudly grinning. Well done, my friends!
Purchase the best beets you can find. Choose those that are colorful, firm, heavy for their size with green tops still attached (see below how to cook greens tops).
The second step is to find a good quality plain Greek yogurt. If you can find 100% natural sheep milk yogurt with active probiotics and it will be a major discovery for your pantry. Save it like the most valuable treasure in the world. Because it is.
Do you like walnuts? The Mediterranean way of eating embraces raw nuts and adding them in a salad you are going to make it not only tastier but healthier too. I would suggest to roast them just to give extra flavor.
My relation with raw garlic hasn’t been perfect for the last 5 years. For some reason, my body cannot tolerate it and this is unfortunate because I enjoy its taste so much. Anyway, I found the solution and I usually roast it when a recipe calls for raw garlic. If you’re not a garlic person just omit it, otherwise roast it along with walnuts.
One recipe, three ways. Crazy, right? Yeap! Because this recipe is your new delicious way(s) to eat beets. Start counting.
- A handy salad/appetizer. The main recipe.
- A luscious dip. Place all ingredients in a blender/food processor and process until smooth. The dip is ready. Drizzle some olive oil and garnish with mint (optional) or the herb(s) of your choice. Serve with whole wheat pita bread and homemade bread or raw veggies.
- A versatile spread and/or pasta sauce. Like above place all ingredients in the blender/food processor and blend to reach a spread’s texture. Meaning you should blend until only small bits remain. Unless you like your spread extra smooth. It’s your game. If you want to take your spread even further to an ultimate level of tastiness, add one or two tablespoons of ricotta cheese or crumbled feta or (even better) this spicy feta spread. Play with the ingredients until you reach the texture you like. Finally, pour your beet sauce over the top of whole wheat pasta or brown rice or quinoa and toss well. Sooooo good.
DON’T WASTE BEET GREENS!
Do you want an extra delicious salad along with your beet salad, dip/spread, sauce? Excellent. I presume you have already purchased the beetroots with green tops. Good. You should absolutely keep the greens. They are tasty and nutritious and can be used in making another delicious salad. Just boil them until tender to taste, drain them and serve them with olive oil, lemon or vinegar. Done. Keep them in the fridge in a food container for 3-4 days and you a delicious and handy salad to serve with your meals.
TO ROAST OR NOT TO ROAST?
Instead of boiling the beets, you may roast them along with the garlic and the walnuts. Just wrap the beetroots and garlic cloves in a piece of tin foil. Place the beets on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour (roasting time depends on the size). Don’t forget one or two thyme leaves for an extra tasteful kick. Finally, peel the skin away. Ready. Roasting needs more time than boiling and to tell you the truth I don’t recommend it for this recipe. I have already made them both ways and I couldn’t tell the difference. I guess the yogurt/garlic combo covers most of the beetroot flavor. However, if I want to serve them plain only with olive oil and lemon or vinegar, this is a perfect salad along with the greens. It’s so Mediterranean: fresh veggies with olive oil and vinegar or/and lemon.
Easy Beet Salad with Greek Yogurt
- 1 pound (500g) medium beetroots (keep the greens)
- 8 cups (2 liters) water
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound (500g) medium beetroots (keep the greens)
- olive oil as needed for drizzling
- 2-3 cloves garlic, whole
- ½ cup raw walnuts, chopped
- Fresh thyme leaves or one teaspoon dried
- Salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE SALAD
- 1 cup (250g) Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or 2-3 cloves roasted, minced
- 1 ½-2 teaspoons olive oil
- ½ cup raw walnuts halves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Za'atar (optional)
- Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- Walnuts and scallions or mint (optional) for serving
FOR BOILING THE BEETROOTS
- Trim the tops off the beets, leaving 2 inches of the stem. Wash them. Keep the greens*
- In a large pot add water, vinegar, and salt. Add the beets, bring water to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook beets until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Peel once cooled.
FOR ROASTING THE BEETROOTS
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Trim the tops off the beets, leaving 1/2 inch of the stem. Keep the greens*. Wash them well and scrub the dirt. Dry well.
- Set the oven rack in the center position. Place them on a piece of foil large enough to make a pouch. Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat the beets. Add the garlic, the walnuts, the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the beets tightly in the foil pouch and place them on a sheet tray.
- Roast the beets until fork tender, about 50 to 60 minutes (depending on the size of the beets). Allow beets to cool. Peel once cooled.
- Cut the peeled beetroots into cubes and transfer to a food processor. Add the garlic, walnuts, yogurt, and pulse until blended. Add the olive oil, za’atar, and puree. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Scrape into a bowl. Scatter walnuts and scallions on top and serve with whole wheat pita bread or homemade or raw vegetables.