Herby beetroot salad with raw, thinly sliced chioggia beetroot, lots of fresh herbs and shaved sharp hard cheese. To say it’s healthy is an understatement.
Beetroot with goat's cheese? Boring!
Beetroot with goat’s cheese is the ubiquitous vegetarian starter, restaurants have all seem to have jumped on the beetroot bandwagon of late. Salt-roasted, drippings-roasted, plain roasted beets are coupled with sliced or diced bouche de chevre, with a few pea shoots adorning the dish.
But if I were vegetarian, I’d be in tears of boredom seeing this kind of beetroot salad everywhere as the starter option for me. It’s not that it is a bad pairing, but why can’t they use a different kind of cheese every now and then?
And the beetroot really needn’t be cooked. Especially new, small beets are delicious raw. If you slice them thinly and let them macerate in a simple vinaigrette, they will lose the raw edge but remain crunchy. And who doesn’t like crunchy?
Interesting beetroot varieties
There are many interesting beetroots available these days, not just the gnarly dark ones, that most commonly used to be sold cooked, drowned in vinegar for some obscure reason. They don’t even have to be red: there are white and orange, and pink beetroots, a selection of which is called, aptly, rainbow beets.
The loveliest in that bunch is Italian chioggia, not very conspicuous on the outside, it reveals pretty pink and white swirls when cut. It is also a little sweeter than ordinary beets but perhaps it’s the visuals affecting the gustatory? Like it is the case with strawberries, we tend to perceive red foods as sweeter than others, so perhaps a blind test should be done?
Not just goat’s cheese with beetroot
Whether they are sweeter or not, they are delicious and incredibly healthy to eat raw, paired with a bunch of herbs and some sharp cheese, like in this salad.
Sharp, mature cheese like Gruyere, Comte, Gouda or even Cheddar works fantastically well in this salad, shredded rather than grated.
How to marinate raw beetroot
The beets need to be sliced very thinly for the salad. The best to use will be one of those frighteningly sharp mandolins, unless your knife skills are proficient. You can also use a vegetable peeler to slice the beetroot.
A simple vinaigrette of olive oil with lemon and vinegar and good pinches of salt and pepper will serve as a marinade to soften the beet slices and take off the raw edge a little. And it is also the dressing for the beets, the herbs and the whole finished salad.
What herbs go with raw beetroot?
My suggested mix is mint, tarragon and some rocket leaves. It is only a suggestion though, and whatever variety of herbs you enjoy will be as good: dill perhaps, and some coriander or lots of basil?
Whatever green and fragrant leaves you fancy.
More beetroot recipes
Cooked beetroots make a great salad too – or maybe a mix of cooked and raw, like in my beetroot salad recipe? Feel free to make it with just raw or just cooked ones, too.
Did you know you can eat fresh beetroot leaves like spinach? And not only in salads: try the beet leaf tart next time you have a whole bunch of beets with stalks and leaves on.
It doesn’t get redder than this: beets, figs and pomegranate! These beetroots are cooked and then roasted for the second time with figs and pomegranate seeds. And look: there’s goat’s cheese topping this dish!
More raw vegetable salad recipes
Asparagus, shaved thinly and combined with lemon and Parmesan tastes delicious raw. Try it in the next asparagus season.
Winter doesn’t mean you can’t have fresh produce: look at the vibrant rainbow salad with red and white cabbage, red and white onion and carrots.
Raw brussels sprouts? Absolutely. Shaved brussels sprout salad with walnuts might even convert a sworn sprout objector.