Easy, fresh, 5-ingredient beet salad with lemon and mint. Perfect in the summer (or switch the fresh mint to dried herbs in the winter), the salad is naturally vegan and Paleo-friendly.
I love beets. My husband does not. We’ve nevertheless managed to make our marriage work.
And yet, he now likes–make that really likes–this simple beet salad. Cue the fireworks!
The salad is a minimalist affair from start to finish, and, thanks to the additions of fresh mint and a double dose of lemon (both the juice and zest), it sings summer. It is already in the 90s here in Texas, so that is exactly what we need.
The reason why this salad convinced my husband of the deliciousness of beets (at last!) is this: the beets are raw.
If you, or anyone else you know, has an indifference towards, or dislike of, beets, raw may be the solution for you, too. It may sound counterintuitive, but the deep, earthy-sweet flavor associated with beets is most pronounced when they are cooked; when raw, the flavor is delicate and nuanced. Partner that subtle flavor with some citrus-y tang and sweet mint, and you have a winning salad, by any measure.
Ready to try it? You won’t need much in terms of time, effort or ingredients. I think you can already guess the primary ingredients: (1) raw beets, (2) a lemon, and (3) fresh mint.
The only part of the salad that takes any real effort (and it is still marginal) is peeling and grating the beets. However, it’s really no big deal if you do the following:
(1) Wear rubber gloves. Really, truly, you want to do this. Beets stain your nails and hands (profoundly!). Pull on the gloves and cleaning up will be a breeze (the stain rinses right off the gloves). Also, wearing gloves makes it easier to hold the beets when peeling and grating.
(2) Line your cutting board: Do you want to scrub your cutting board for days? No you do not. Therefore, avoid staining by placing a big, doubled piece of wax paper or parchment paper (or plastic wrap, or foil, any liner that is food safe) on top of your cutting board before grating. Yes, do double if using paper; the color can leak through a single layer, which is most aggravating.
Sure, you can use a food processor grater attachment to grate the beets, but good heavens, what a purple pain to clean! Use it if you need to, but opt for a box grater if you have the option. The grating itself will only take a minute or so.
(3) Wear an apron: Do you like your clothes? Do you wear them in public? If you responded yes to either or both of these questions, don an apron. Or throw on an old t-shirt.
Ok, grating done! Gloves removed, liner tossed, grater rinsed, it’s time to make a super-simple dressing.
Grate a teaspoon of zest from, and then juice your lemon. One half of the lemon will probably be enough to measure the tablespoon that you need. Place both zest and juice in a small jar along with 2 teaspoons olive oil (or the oil of your choice) and 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Cover and shake, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
I know that this sounds like a tiny amount of dressing, but it is really all that you need. The beets are juicy; this amount of dressing adds a punch of flavor without excess liquid. Also, because the beets have a natural sweetness, there is no need to add sugar to the dressing.
Toss the beets with the dressing, cover and chill until cold. Wait until the salad is cold to adjust the salt; chilling can alter the needs for salt.
Further, hold off on adding the mint until just before serving. This will prevent the mint from wilting and darkening. You can refrigerate the salad at this point for up to several days.
Add any additional salt (or pepper) as desired and toss the salad with the mint. Beets, mint and lemon create are a perfect trinity of flavors in my humble opinion. I hope you think the same!
When fall and winter roll around, you can replace the fresh mint with parsley, chives or dill, or add about a teaspoon of dried herbs (e.g., dill, herbes de Provence, marjoram) to the dressing.
Happy eating, everyone!
Making this recipe? I would love to see it!
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- 2 to 3 medium-large beets, trimmed and peeled (12 oz/340 g total)
- 1 medium lemon
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup (60 mL) packed fresh mint leaves, fineley chopped
- sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Coarsely grate the beets using a hand grater or food processor. Transfer beets to a medium bowl.
- Grate 1 teaspoon zest from the lemon; squeeze enough juice to measure 1 tablespoon.
- In a small jar, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, oil, coconut sugar, and mustard. Cover and shake until emulsified. Season dressing with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour dressing over beets and toss to coat. Refrigerate until cold (about 1 hour) or for up to 3 days. Just before serving, adjust salt and pepper to taste and toss in mint leaves.