lunch, vegetables

Beet salad – olive oil, sherry vinegar, garlic and parsley

April 14, 2009

beet salad with olive oil, sherry vinegar, garlic and parsley

“WHAT! you haven’t done a post in 13 days, and all you give us is lousy sliced beets? shame on you Matt, shame – especially after that April Fools post you did last time.” I can hear you say.

Ohhh, but wait. These are the best beets I have ever eaten. EVER. I love beets too, so this isn’t exactly the first time I have cooked them.

Wrightfood has been on vacation. On vacation to the wonderful, sunny, some say almost tropical destination of…


Yep. Whilst the rest of the company I work for was sunning themselves in Baja Mexico, we were at home finishing up a deck remodel. It wasn’t all bad though to be honest- we took the week of work (since everyone else did..) and got a bunch of stuff done – including the makings of what will hopefully be a pretty great vegetable garden this year. Our first time growing anything other than tomatoes and a few herbs – and we are excited. More on that later however.

So back to the beets.

In this week off, Danika’s parents took our son for a couple of days – to help us get a few things done. What that meant was that we got a date night. We also got to sleep in too. The date night was spent at one of my favorite local haunts – Harvest Vine. A pretty darn authentic Basque tapas joint. There is a ton of new restaurants that we want to eat our way through, but somehow we always get drawn back here – and not just because it is within walking distance of our gaff. We love the food there. Very clean, simple, the kind of dishes where you taste remarkable individual flavors, yet the whole dish is harmonious. We have always had great service there too.

On the menu that night was this basic beet salad. Why the heck not we thought – a nice little start to the meal. A “nice little start” just doesn’t do this sexy little number justice though to be honest. We kept talking about it all through the meal – and we had some pretty bloody incredible stuff that night too.

Not sure if the waiter had been drinking or not, but he was rather forthcoming in spilling the details on a few dishes. Thanks mate. This was one of them that he talked about. A dish that is almost impossible to screw up. It just really relies on one thing:

Good ingredients.

No, scratch that, REALLY good ingredients.

Lets be honest though, dishes with only a few ingredients always do.


So what is in this great beet dish? Well, just some boiled beets, a great olive oil, sherry vinegar, fresh garlic, parsley, and some sea salt.

That is it. The only thing cooked is the beets, and those are served cold. The hardest thing with this dish? Letting it sit for 10 minutes so all the flavors get their groove going together.

Right, here it is. Perhaps one of the simplest, and certainly one of the tastiest things I have posted so far. Thanks to Harvest Vine for this one!


Beet Salad Recipe with olive oil, sherry vinegar, garlic and parsley

4 medium sized beets. A variety of colors are always a joy, but just red is fine

1 clove of garlic

1 small handful of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley

really good olive oil

really good sherry vinegar

great sea salt – a sexy little fleur de sel if you have it

Wash the beets, just to remove any dirt. Get a large pan of water boiling. Toss in the beets, and boil gently until tender – you should be able to skewer one through without too much resistance. For an average sized beet – this might take around 3o to 40 minutes.

When the beets are cooked, remove from the water, and let them cool just enough to touch. Rub each beet with a towel to remove the skin. This is best done when the beet is really pretty hot – the skin comes off far easier. Sure, you might burn your hands, but it is worth it. Allow the beets to cool.

Once the beets are cool, break out the mandolin slicer. Set it to perhaps the thinnest setting, and start slicing the beets acrossways.

Finely dice the garlic. Me being rather anal with stuff like this – because you see the garlic on top of the beets, try and get a pretty consistent, even looking dice. Finely chop the parlsey.

To assemble – lay the slices of beet out on a plate. Sprinkle the garlic and parsley over the beets. Do the same with a little sea salt. I find it is far more effective to do this from a great height – you get a much more even spread that way, instead of concentrating your seasonings in one spot. Don’t get all flouncy Jamie Oliver with it though!

To finish, drizzle a good glug of sherry vinegar over, and then do the same with the olive oil.

Let it sit for ten minutes to let the flavors swap phone numbers.

This is best made around the time you want to eat it. I find that boiled beets can last a couple of days in the fridge no problem, but doing so with them sliced isn’t a great idea, they loose some texture for sure. I make this salad to take to work, and just hike along a whole beet and my Japanese slicer. Sure I might look like a prat in the office kitchen, slicing up the beets, but it is worth it. Let your office workers eat their twinkies and make jokes.

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  • Y April 14, 2009 at 6:01 am

    A chef I used to work for, loved seasoning things from a great height, when he knew people were watching. Always made me laugh.

    This salad looks like the kind of thing I should make with the handful of beets I have lying around in the kitchen. Your recipe is a hoot to read too.

  • helen April 14, 2009 at 6:47 am

    Oh, I love Harvest Vine! Such good food, and such a great sherry collection. I’d return in a heartbeat.

  • lisaiscooking April 14, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Beautiful and delicious looking! I love beets, and I just made a beet salad as well. I think I could have them for every meal.

  • gine April 14, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Beets are great :-)!

  • redmenace April 14, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    So you had a stay-cation instead of a vacation? Sometimes, that’s all we need! This recipe looks great! The pictures are just lovely– as always! And, don’t feel bad about not blogging. I’m in the same boat. Wedding planning takes all my motivation!

  • Lang April 14, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Matt – Congrats on the staycation deck. We just did part of our basement. Shoulder seasons are good times for home improvement projects.

    The beet salad looks delicious! I love beets. We just planted a bunch, including those beautiful yellow ones that make a nice change-up. Will definitely try this recipe.

  • Giff April 14, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    sometimes simple is best. I’m a convert to beets in the last few years, and now a huge fan. This looks fabulous.

  • Kairu April 14, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    I am always looking for new things to do with beets – I’ll try this next. It looks wonderful.

    I love the Harvest Vine, but it’s not within walking distance, unfortunately (or fortunately). Last time we were there our server was very upset when he brought us a dish and we sent it back (some miscommunication – we hadn’t ordered it, but he thought we had) and spent the rest of the evening stomping around and nearly knocking our glasses into our laps. It was very uncomfortable. The food has always been wonderful, so maybe I will venture there again.

  • Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food. April 15, 2009 at 3:40 am

    Oooo, I would love to hear more about your vegetable garden. I plan on doing something to in our back yard.
    As for beets, love ’em but prefer them roasted, more flavor, I think, then cooked in water which seems to dilute their flavor.
    Great shots.

  • rachel April 15, 2009 at 9:56 am

    This is the kind of recipe/idea that really inspires me, utterly simple and obviously delicious, something that will stay lodged in my memory and poke at regulal intervals till I make it.
    Lovely photo as usual.

  • nina April 15, 2009 at 10:21 am

    You really took the humble old beet to a whole different level!!!!Well done, it looks amazing…especially the color!!!

  • White On Rice Couple April 16, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Bravo! Simplicity is certainly key to great food and your beet dish is a beautiful example of that. The pure flavors of the sweet beets are coming through the gorgeous pictures!
    Can’t wait to read and see more on your developing garden. Hurry, hurry, we’re anxious!

  • Josh April 17, 2009 at 2:48 am

    These looks great! I was all excited to make them tonight, then realized I have nowhere to do that. Ah well, soon enough.

  • Anticiplate April 18, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    My Austrian friend Michael swears on cooking beets in balsamic vinegar. Me, I love to roast mine. I have never boiled them. Must try.

  • Hank April 19, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Good on ya for having the stones to do a post on something like this. (Oh, and nice knife work — or was it a mandoline?) I basically dress most of my really good fish, and really good veggies, in olive oil, sea salt, parsely and maybe pepper, with the possibility of meyer lemon juice tossed in for the hell of it. But this seems kinda like a non-recipe to me, and I am always wondering if I should bother with writing about it. Guess I should. Looking forward to doing this with some beets from the garen soon…

  • CatsWithThumbs April 20, 2009 at 12:16 am

    I was just wondering if you could still do this recipe by roasting the beets instead of boiling them?

  • pg April 20, 2009 at 2:37 am

    Mhm. I did this the other night using a mix of golden beets and regular beets in overlapping lines of straight color.

    I’m not so much a fan of boiled beets and find roasted ones much more tasty –but for this application smallish ones seemed to work best.

    Good call on the sherry vinegar. I doused mine that and a bit of fresh squeezed OJ. A few bits of tiny diced orange worked out good too.

    It was a hit. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • mattwright April 20, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Thanks for all the comments everyone. To answer a few questions:

    Y – there is some purpose to the great height thing, but when you take it that far, you are just being a showoff pillock.
    Helen – isn’t it great!
    Lisa – Thanks! more beets today for me actually
    Gine – see above 😀
    redmenace: staycations are awesome.
    Lang: sweet! We are just about to plant some too. Our first time ever..
    Giff: I hated beets for ages, thanks to the complete crap you get from a can in school.
    Kairu: Bummer about the crappy experience at Harvest 🙁
    Nurit: you could certainly use roasted beets here.
    Rachel: I really think good vegetables taste best when simply prepared.
    Nina: thanks! I too love the color of beets
    WoRC: Will do a post soon on the garden, will email ya too.
    Josh: Just might have something for you today mate.
    Anticiplate: Boiling is good. A little faster than roasting in my opinion.
    Hank: I was wondering whether to post this to be honest – seemed too simple, but this is how I like to eat vegetables, just simple. Seems wrong to do complicated stuff with just amazing produce.
    Cats: YES, certainly could!
    PG: that is the best presentation for sure – multi colored. I will try this with OJ next!

  • julie April 20, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Oh lovely Matt. Glad you and Danika got to spend some quality time together much like the beets & vinegar that are “swapping numbers” 🙂

  • Food Woolf April 23, 2009 at 12:58 am

    I LOVE beets. I just adore them. I cook them as often as possible, especially when I have a great new recipe like yours to try out. It’s nothing like any beet dish I’ve ever made, so I’m EXTREMELY excited to give it a try.

    Oh, and for the record, your photos RULE. But I’m sure I’ve told you that before. But really. My god. Soooo good.


  • mattwright April 23, 2009 at 4:15 am

    Julie: it was fun I have to say!
    Food Wolf: Beets are my favorite veg. We are just about to plant a ton of them. I could happily eat 5 beets a day, and never get bored of em.
    Thanks for the kind words about my photos, given the amazing food photographers you know, I take that is a pretty amazing compliment.

  • zenchef April 24, 2009 at 1:26 am

    An authentic basque tapas bar? You’re lucky, there’s no good ones in NY.
    I miss it. I was born and i went to cooking school in the Basque region.

    Love the beets! That’s something i don’t do on my blog because i just can’t photograph them properly. On yours, it looks fabulous!

    Damnit! 🙂

  • mallory elise April 27, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    oh wow that sounds so good…..ahhh….hey but guess what CANNED pickled beets are my guilty pleasure. hehe. some people like Hershey bars…but me, well i know where it’s at.

  • mpg May 7, 2009 at 6:43 am

    i really admire your plating skills! you make the simplest stuff look beautiful and you make 10 diff things look simple put together. thought about teaching food presentation & plating? let me know because i’ll be first to sign up!

  • Liz Vandewalle April 19, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    This was fabulous and ridiculously easy to make. thanks so much for sharing. [thank you, Harvest Vine.] 🙂