Monday, February 17, 2014

Chioggia beet salad

Lately, I’m on a quest to eat more of the foods I don’t usually eat a lot. Even though I like the flavor of beets I only rarely put them on my grocery list.

The same goes with other vegetables and fruits but I am now doing a conscious effort to pay more attention to those neglected treasures. Especially when they are at their prime and are being sold at the market way cheaper than other, fancier vegetables.

The other day, purely by chance, I came across this type of beet, the Chioggia beet. I have never eaten it before and was dazzled by the red-fuscia and white rings when I saw it cut open and displayed at the market.

I had to have them. And so I did. As soon as I got home, I did a little research online and realized that if I cooked them, they would lose those cute rings and become pinkish-red instead. I couldn’t have that. I wanted to see those rings decorate my plate. We eat first with our eyes after all and I wanted this to be a feast for the eyes as well as for the appetite.

I decided to make a salad. A full-on delicious salad for Sunday lunch with goat’s cheese, pistachios, rocket leaves, dill and white balsamic vinaigrette. A perfectly balanced salad both flavor- and texture-wise.

Creamy, soft and slightly tangy cheese, raw, crunchy, earthy beets, toasty, nutty pistachios, fresh, bitter rocket, herbaceous dill and a zing from the vinaigrette tingling the palate, with the extra virgin olive oil smoothing all the flavors and making those bicolored beets look even more tempting.

Chioggia Beet Salad with Goat’s Cheese and Pistachios

The Chioggia beet hails from Northern Italy. It has a similar flavor to the regular red beet but it’s a tad sweeter and milder. If you can’t find them, use red beets.
The good thing about Chioggia beets is that they don't stain like the red ones, so you can handle them with less caution.

I chose white balsamic (like in this salad) because I didn’t want to stain the beautiful beets. You can use a champagne or a white wine vinegar instead.

It pairs perfectly with a grilled or poached piece of fish, or you can have it on its own for a light lunch or supper.

Yield: 4 salad servings or 2 lunch servings


for the vinaigrette
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp caster sugar
Freshly ground white pepper

for the salad
50 g rocket leaves
2 large chioggia beets
60 g fresh soft goat’s cheese
2-3 Tbsp shelled, unsalted pistachios
A handful of fresh dill leaves, chopped

Special equipment: mandoline (optional)


make the vinaigrette
In a small bowl, add the olive oil, the vinegar and the sugar. Mix well with a fork or a small whisk. Add some salt and pepper and give the vinaigrette a taste. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

make the salad
Add pistachios to a dry, small pan and place over medium heat. Toast nuts, stirring regularly so they don’t burn, until they become fragrant. Empty them immediately onto a plate and once cooled, chop them with a knife.

Rinse the rocket leaves under cold running water, drain and dry on a clean kitchen towel. Toss them with 1 Tbsp of the vinaigrette.

Peel the beets and thinly slice them using a mandoline or a sharp knife. Toss them with 2 Tbsp of the vinaigrette.

Arrange the dressed rocket leaves on a plate and arrange the dressed beets on top. Crumble the goat’s cheese on top and scatter the pistachios and dill over the salad. Drizzle a little more vinaigrette over the salad.
Serve immediately.

Other recipes with beets:
Greek Beetroot Purée with Potatoes and Walnuts
Purple and Golden Beet Chips with Spicy Sour Cream Dip


  1. This is such a striking salad! I definitely don't eat enough beets--must keep an eye out for these beauties the next time I'm at the farmer's market.

  2. Magda, what a beautiful salad. This is right up my alley, I also love pairing dill and goats cheese with beets. They balance the earthy sweetness so well.

  3. Mmmmmm, that looks good.

    Any chance of ever publishing your recipes in an (e)book?

  4. Oh, those are so beautiful. I imagined by the name that they were Italian, yet I have never found them here at the market. Must look into that...

  5. What a beautiful beet! My husband doesn't like beets, but I'm on an endless quest to change his mind :)


  6. I remember the first time I bought Chioggia beets, I made them into pickled beets not knowing they lost their beautiful concentric circles when cooked. I was so sad... (But the pickles were good anyway!) I haven't tried them since. Now I need to do a salad like this! xo, David

  7. Magda, that is so my kind of salad! I love beets and together with crunchy nuts and goat cheese... yum!
    And chioggas are so beautiful. Great shots as always.
    P.S. Did I tell you that we've just booked our plane tickets to go back to Greece this summer? We are heading back to Folegandros. We can't wait!

  8. I could not resist this ! love the salad, the dressing, all of it! actually love beets but like you I forget to buy them! wish they had these here. will have to check it out. we get quite a lot of stuff from Italy, rice of course and the neighborhood markets always carry Pomi! :)

  9. It looks lovely and even though it's very cold around here, I could just eat that wonderful and colorful salad :)

  10. Eileen — you must get them! They are unique.

    Katie — yes, the cheese and dill is the ideal accompaniment to the beets.

    Betty Stacy — I have never considered the possibility.

    Nuts about food — you should! :)

    Sues — hehe these may change his mind. They're so cute!

    David — they are so beautiful, aren't they? Do try the salad, it's really good.

    erin — thanks! Oh that's so good to hear you're going to Greece again. I love Folegandros! I hope you have the best time there!

    Denise — glad you like it.

    Joumana — perhaps you can find these. They are not very popular here either, I only recently discovered them, but they are stunning to look at and flavorful as well.

    Ondina — it's cold here too bu a salad is always part of our meal.

  11. What a pretty, not to mention delicious-looking, salad! I had never heard of those kinds of beets so well done for finding them! Love the idea of adding pistachios and cheese!

  12. Looks so healthy. I love the colour of these beets! beautiful x

  13. I love the Chiogga beets--you've captured their beauty.