(Note: this post was originally published on September 15, 2019. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
Prepare to be wowed. This salad takes humble carrots and beets and turns them completely on their heads in a way that is so tasty and unexpected.
Usually when we think of fall veggies, we think of Thanksgiving-esque preparations like roasting and big fall flavors like rosemary and cranberry. This salad is a surprising twist on beets and carrots because it keeps them raw and pairs them with a bright, lemony dressing. It's a great way to transition from summer to fall, when these gorgeous veggies are at their prime but you're not quite ready for roasted root veggies yet.
Raw beets may sound a little bizarre, but I promise it works! The key is slicing them very thinly (I like to use a mandoline) and bathing them in an acidic marinade to help them soften. The combination of super-thin slices and an acidic marinade yields beets that are tender but not soft, and fresh but also a little bit hearty.
I've shown this salad with chioggia (a.k.a. candy cane) beets, which I absolutely love because of their amazing color. These came from my mom's garden! Yellow beets would work beautifully too, especially with red or purple carrots. Red beets would taste just as good, but they'll stain the carrots red, so I suggest staying with the lighter-colored options.
Pairing the earthy beets with sweet carrots, peppery arugula, and the really lemony marinade creates such interesting flavors.
Although the veggies themselves are great, the true star of this dish is a magical, crunchy topping. It's a (very) non-traditional version of dukkah, which is an Egyptian nut and spice blend. Dukkah is usually made with hazelnuts and sesame seeds and sometimes pistachios, and packed with flavor from spices like cumin and coriander. There are plenty of great recipes online and it adds such a fun, crunchy twist on top of salads, grilled veggies, and proteins.
This dukkah is the same concept, but with a different flavor profile. It uses pistachios, sesame seeds, and lemon zest to bring complexity but also brightness to the fall veggies. I highly suggest making a double batch and putting it on everything from salads to roasted veggies to nourish bowls. It's crunchy, a bit decadent, and totally packed with flavor.
Like most salads, this one is really amenable to customization. Feel free to use a combination of chioggia and yellow beets, and/or multi-colored carrots. I like the peppery bite that arugula adds, but any sort of hearty green would be lovely.
Do you know what else would be divine here? Some crumbled goat cheese. Or (gasp!) goat cheese rolled in dukkah. Crispy roasted chick peas would also be delicious, and would take this from side dish to dinner. Conversely or additionally, this salad could happily sit atop a bed of a Middle Eastern grain like farro. Doesn't that sound like a perfect, light dinner for a warm September evening?
If you want to prep this salad ahead of time, you can do most of the work in advance, but not quite all of it. You can easily make the dukkah the day before; just keep it in a tightly-sealed container in the fridge. You can also marinate the veggies for as long as a couple hours, so feel free to get them going well before your guests arrive. Just don't toss in the greens until you're ready to serve (unless it's something super-hearty like kale, which could happily marinate for an hour or two). And don't add the dukkah until just before you're ready to serve, since you want it to stay nice and crunchy!
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
This salad requires a bit of prep time to slice the veggies and make the dukkah. But it's absolutely worth it, and will make a show-stopping side dish that can easily go from summer to fall. This salad would even be at home on your Thanksgiving table, where something bright and raw is a lovely addition to all the heavier classics.
Give this symphony of colors, flavors, and textures a try! You may never go back to boring roasted beets again.
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
A delightfully fresh dish for fall, this colorful beauty features a rainbow of seasonal produce with a decadent nutty crumble on top. If you've never had raw beets before, this fall salad (and a couple sneaky tricks!) will convince you.