I can't remember ever having beets growing up. This likely means my parents refused to eat them. That's the way it was with parsnips anyway. Their house is a parsnip free zone and no one may bring a dish containing parsnips under penalty of death. When I first met beets, it was in my college salad bar (Mrs. Greens at JMU... you were epic and I miss you and Phyllis at the checkout who knew me by name). And I couldn't understand why I had been shielded from beets! They're sweet, they're earthy,toothy and really they're just what a spinach salad with walnuts and goat cheese needs.

Post college I never really tried to cook beets at home. I knew they stained, and I am a hot mess in the kitchen. If I am wearing a light color I will definitely stain myself with beet juice. But recently, I've gotten good with reducing the potential for beet blood and have also met the golden beets. Frankly at this point, beets deserve their own salad which is why I put them center stage. Topped with chopped walnuts and fresh tarragon, drizzled lightly with dijon vinaigrette, this winter beet salad will win anyone over.

Beet Salad with Walnut, Tarragon and Dijon Dressing

Ingredients: serves 2-3

  • 1 golden beet
  • 1 regular beet
  • 1/4 C walnuts
  • fresh tarragon
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons oil (a neutral canola like oil is best)
  • 1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • sea salt

Directions: Peel beets and slice into roughly quarter inch rounds. In separate pans (so the colors don't bleed into one another), boil the beets in shallow water until they can be pierced with a fork. Remove beets from the pan, drain and cool in separate containers. As a side note, if you want to use the residual red beet water to color a jam or drink, it's perfect!

Once the beets are cool, use a cookie cuter of your choice to cut out the beet shapes. Save the other pieces for salad toppings. Assemble on the plate (do not toss or the colors will run together). Chop walnuts and sprinkle over the beets. Pull tarragon leaves and sprinkle over the salad.

In a small jar or bowl, add the oil, vinegar, dijon, sugar and salt. Whisk/shake the mixture and drizzle over the beets.

Beets, love them or hate them? Is there a food you despise in your house that you now love?