A lot of people don't think beets are delicious, which is just very sad. While not quite as strong a reaction as some have to cilantro, I've heard beets described as tasting like dirt. Personally, I think they're juicy and sweet and taste like health. I used to love getting beet salads in restaurants, but I recently discovered how easy it is to make a beet salad yourself at home!
Nearly 8 years ago, I was fresh out of college and working the front desk at a hotel in downtown New Orleans. They served us meals in the cafeteria every shift, which really helped me get by on $11 an hour wages. Even though they served things like jambalaya and gumbo and chicken wings, I had recently gone vegetarian and could eat none of those things. Instead, every shift, I would make a big salad with lots of hard boiled eggs, beets, and ranch (and whatever other veggies they had that day). The beets would turn the ranch a delightful pink which always just made me happy.
Nowadays I eat a lot less beets, mostly whenever I see them on a menu in a restaurant. While we were in Rome, both sick with the flu, Adam turned to me and asked me to make a beet salad when we got back home. I was super excited, but I had no idea how to turn those hard dirty roots in the store into a salad. Thankfully Google educated me on how freaking simple it is!
How to Cook a Beet
Personally, I've never had a raw beet and I don't think I would recommend trying it. Beets are super dirty and VERY hard. If you like them that way, let me know! I'd be super curious to see what people think. My recipe calls for you to use your Instant Pot to cook the beets because I prefer the sweet tenderness of a cooked beet. If you don't have an Instant Pot, cover the beets with foil and roast at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until fork tender, or boil them until tender. Once you've cooked them, wipe them down with paper towels in order to remove the skin. I would highly recommend gloves or you will have hot pink fingers.
How to Make Balsamic Dressing
You might think it's weird that I call for you to simmer and reduce the balsamic dressing a bit, but there is a method to my madness. Sure, you could just mix the ingredients and pour it over your salad. I'm sure that many of you will go right to the easy part. Personally, I am not a fan of watery dressings. I like my dressings to feel creamy and have sticking power to my lettuce, so I like to reduce it down just a smidgeon.
If you have ever had a balsamic reduction on anything (I highly recommend salmon), then you may not realize that it's literally just balsamic vinegar simmed until all the water it boiled out and you have a syrup like consistency. I like adding orange juice to this dressing to give it some sweetness, some dijon to add that underlying umami flavor, and garlic because I think garlic goes in everything. You can mix things up though! Just use straight balsamic. Try out pomegranate juice. Or any juice really. Rosemary would be a good herb to use. PLEASE don't add sugar to your dressing. Balsamic is naturally sweet, I actually have used it to sweeten sugar free barbecue sauce.
Getting the Right Consistency
One way that you'll know you have the right consistency is to take a spatula and drag it along the bottom of the pan. When you first begin, the liquid will immediately flood behind the spatula and you won't be able to see the bottom. As water is removed, it will take a second before the bottom will be covered again. Once that happens, go another 2 minutes and remove the dressing from the heat. The longer you simmer the closer to a syrup you have so it's up to you what consistency you're looking for.
This is a salad so you can literally mix up any part of this beet salad. Change up the dressing as described above, use different lettuce, use feta instead of goat cheese, use different nuts, add slices of orange, the possibilities are endless!
I hope you enjoy this beautiful salad as much as Adam and I did. I do have to warn you though! The morning after I ate this I really scared myself because my pee was a beautiful pink color! Rate, review and subscribe so that I can hear your thoughts on this dish! Happy eating!
Beet Salad with Balsamic Dressing
- Pressure Cooker
For the salad
- 5 whole small beets, ends trimmed
- 1 bag mixed baby green salad
- 4 oz goat cheese (feta can be substituted)
- ½ cup candied walnuts (pecans can be substituted)
For the dressing
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- Scrub and trim the beets. In an Instant Pot, place 1 cup of water in the pot. Then place the trivet and the beets on top. Pressure cook on high for 15 minutes for small beets and up to 30 minutes for large beets. Release pressure manually. Poke beets with fork, removing and beets that are easily pierced. Pressure cook the remaining beets for an additional 5 minutes. Allow to cool. Peel and slice.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add all ingredients for the dressing and mix thoroughly. Simmer until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- On plates or bowls, add lettuce, sliced beets, crumbled goat cheese and walnuts. Spoon dressing over top and serve.
If you make this recipe, be sure to tag @thatzestlife in your photo! I would love to see what you made!