Recipe: Beetroot & Feta Salad with pink Pickled Onions

In our opinion there are few better ways to eat beetroot than roasted whole in their skins with a bit of oil and salt. If the beetroots aren’t too old and if you make sure to roast them in a dish with a tight fitting lid the skins should slip off easily. Then chop them into chunks and they are the perfect addition to wintry salads (though to be honest we eat them all year round). If you can’t be bothered to roast your own beets, then pre-cooked beetroot can be used here, though I do think roasted beets have a better flavour.

This salad has a nod to Mexico with toasted pumpkin seeds, pink onions and queso fresco (we’ve used feta here). It’s great alongside spicy bean dishes, slow roasted meats or as a side to a chilli, which was how we served in at our Oktoberfest Supper Club in September.

Serves 4, as a side dish

300g Beetroots (a mix of golden and red is nice if you can get them, but you can also use pre-cooked beets for ease)
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Pink picked onions (see our recipe here, or for a simple version see note below)
30g Pumpkin seeds
100g Feta (or homemade queso fresco)
80g Salad leaves
1/2 chioggia (candy) beetroot (optional)

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
¼ teaspoon Soft Brown Sugar

Preheat the oven to 150°C.

Wash the beets really well but don’t peel them. Rub in olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast them in the preheated oven at 150°C in a covered pan (a cast iron casserole dish with a lid is ideal) until soft. It really varies how long the beets will take to soften depending on their size and age – check them after 45 minutes – but they could take up to two hours. While roasting toast the pumpkin seeds in a pan. Crumble the feta. Whisk together the dressing ingredients.

Once cool enough to handle, peel and slice the beetroot into crescents. Dress with half the dressing while still warm.

Dress the salad leaves with the remaining dressing, then arrange on a platter topped with the beetroot, feta, pink pickled onions and pumpkin seeds. If you have a chioggia beetroot you can use a potato peeler to shave a few thin shards over the top of the salad.

Pink pickled onions: We have a great, citrussy recipe here. But for a quicker recipe just finely slice 1/2 a large red onion and put into a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over the onion and leave for 30 seconds. Drain the onion well and add three tablespoons of white wine or apple cider vinegar with a big pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Mix well and leave to sit (and become pink) for half an hour.

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