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An easy raw beet salad using Chioggia “Candy Cane” beets, with goat cheese, pistachios and greens and a quick, light dressing.
This is a simple beet salad that’s easy to make, and it’s a real show-stopper on the table. It’s probably the most colorful salad on this website, right next to this fresh spring asparagus salad.
Thinly sliced “candy cane” – aka Chioggia beets – are blended with sweet red onion, baby greens, goat cheese and pistachios.
The dressing is a quick mixture of olive oil, white wine vinegar and lemon juice, with a touch of honey to balance the sweet and tart flavors.
What are Candy Cane (or Chioggia) Beets?
Beets come in deeply intense colors — magenta, orange and yellow — but Italian heirloom Chioggia beets are exceptionally drop-dead gorgeous.
They’re look unassuming, gnarly and typically beet-like on the outside, and striped liked sweet candy-canes on the inside (which explains their nickname).
Chioggias show off their stripes once they’re sliced open, but if they’re cooked the pattern goes away.
What do candy cane beets taste like?
This type of beet is a bit milder in flavor than ordinary red beets, which makes them perfect to eat raw.
After making this salad a few times, I also noticed they don’t bleed as much color as the red ones, a plus since I prefer to peel them for the salad.
To me, most beets taste like sugar kisses, with a little spoonful of dirt on top. In a good way!
I like beets, love them actually. But they’ve been an acquired taste for sure. Maybe it was my childhood associations with beets and canned vegetables.
At some point in the history of tables I’ve sat around, there was a dish of soggy pickled beets sitting on one.
Those beets came straight out of a can or jar from my grandma’s pantry, tasting sour, sweet and a little of garden soil all at the same time.
I remember once licking the edge of an old copper penny (don’t tell my mom).
It tasted salty and metallic, but so mysteriously mouthwatering I was compelled to have another lick. That’s kind of how I react to beets, too.
To be honest, it really floors me that nature could be so whimsical as to design a root vegetable in the spitting image of a Willy Wonka lollypop.
Once they’re cooked, the colors muddy and fade, so it’s worth eating Chioggia beets raw to get the full bang for your buck.
How to slice raw beets
Before slicing, use a handy vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Oxo makes my favorite basic peeler, sturdy and sharp enough to deal with beet skins.
Sometimes I just use a sharp, heavy knife or a mandoline to make thin, even slices for the salad.
Chioggia beets are available at grocery stores with good produce sections as well as at farmer’s markets in the late summer and fall.
Any kind of beet will work for this recipe, if you’re in the mood for beets or brought home a load from the market. Choose smaller ones as they’ll be sweeter and milder-tasting raw.
Try using a mixture of colors, which will look pretty and offer a variety of different beet flavors.
More Healthy Vegetarian Salads
- Citrus Beet Salad with Roasted Carrots
- Harvest Root Vegetable Salad wth Chimichurri
- Butternut Squash Salad with Harissa
Candy Cane Beet Salad with Goat Cheese
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) liquid honey or sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, or use pistachio oil for a special treat
- 1 pound (450 g) Chioggia beets, peeled
- ¼ cup (40 g) thinly sliced red onion
- 4 cups (170 g) mixed salad greens
- ¼ cup (60 g) fresh crumbled goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
- Whisk the lemon juice, vinegar, honey (or sugar) and salt in a small bowl until honey is dissolved. Gradually pour in the oil and whisk to combine.
- Shave the beets into ribbons with spiral slicer, or into thin discs with a mandoline or sharp knife.
- Put the beets in a salad bowl with the onion and greens. Drizzle with enough dressing to coat, about 2 tablespoons, and toss together. Sprinkle the goat cheese and pistachios over the salad. Serve with additional dressing on the side.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- Any kind of beet will work for this recipe, if you’re in the mood for beets or brought home a load from the market. Choose smaller ones as they’ll be sweeter and milder-tasting when raw.