Roasted Beets and Citrus Salad with Mint Cilantro Pesto

As I had mentioned in my last post, the trip to the Farmer’s Market this past weekend yielded some unusual finds for me – Tatsoi, Watermelon Radishes and Golden Beets.  My experiment with a Tatsoi salad earlier in the week was a success but the radish and kale chips turned out to be a complete dud! I was so down in the dumps over the failed chips’ experiment that I took a few days off from cooking.  I guess there are some advantages to being an empty-nester because if the kids had been at home, I could never have gotten away with not cooking any meals for two whole days!  The fact that the husband was out of the country for work, made it even easier for me to be lazy about cooking.  So over the past two days I looked at all the wonderful pictures of food that appeared on my facebook feed (I subscribe to an endless number of food blogs) but all I ate was eggs, toast, cheese and fruit.  But a die-hard foodie like me can’t stay away from cooking for too long – this morning I woke with renewed enthusiasm and decided that the beets had to come out perfect!

I love beets and while eating out if I find beets on the menu, I am sure to order them. I make beets at home as well but usually they are the regular deep maroon kind. Finding Golden beets in part of the US is quite rare.  The big bunch that I bought at the Farmer’s Market only had two Golden Beets in it, the rest were the usual kind.  So I wanted to utilize them in a recipe that would highlight the contrasting colors of the two kinds of beets.  So I roasted them in an oven and then made a salad with them with a spicy mint cilantro pesto to drizzle on top.  The pesto was very similar to the Indian Mint Chutney but I didn’t add any onion or ginger to it (essential ingredients in the standard mint chutney recipe) because I wanted the herbs to bring out the taste of the sweet roasted beets. I also added Extra Virgin Olive oil to the pesto, so this truly turned out to be a fusion dish. I kept a base of sliced juicy Clementine on the bottom of the platter and then the sliced beets which were then topped with creamy feta cheese and the pesto on top. The colors were spectacular and the taste was intense and absolutely magnificent.


1.    7-8 small multi-colored beets
2.    3-4 Clementine
3.    2-3 ounces of creamy feta cheese or fresh goat cheese
4.    A bunch of fresh mint leaves
5.    A bunch of fresh cilantro leaves
6.    1-2 spicy green chilis
7.    1.5 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
8.    1.5 tablespoon of lemon juice
9.    1 tablespoon of sugar
10.    1/2 teaspoon of salt (more if needed but add a little at a time – remember that feta cheese is quite salty to begin with)

Cooking Directions:

1.    Heat the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit

2.    Wash the beets and place them on a cookie sheet (I covered it with tin foil to make clean-up easy).
3.    Using a sharp knife or a fork, piece the exterior of all the beets (so they let their steam out while roasting),
4.    Place the cookie sheet in the oven and roast the beets till they are fork tender (I like mine a little al dente).  If the beets are small or medium, this takes about 60 minutes in the oven but if they are large, the roasting process may take longer.
5.    Take the beets out of the oven when they are cooked and set them aside so that they cool down enough for you to be able to handle them with your hands.
6.    Wash the chilies, mint and cilantro leaves.  And remove any tough stems in them.

7.    Place the chili, mint and cilantro in a small food processor and also add the lemon juice, sugar and salt and pulse the contents in the jar of the food processor.

8.    The pesto should look chunky and coarse. So when the pesto is at this coarse consistency, slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil and mix everything thoroughly. At this stage, taste the pesto and add sugar, salt or lemon juice according to your own preference.

9.    Peel the Clementines (you can also use fresh oranges) and slice them.

10.    Peel and slice the Golden Beets and set them aside.

11.    Peel and slice the Maroon Beets and set them aside.

12.    Keep the two kinds of beets separate until you are ready to assemble the salad so that their colors do not bleed on to one and another.


13.    In a serving platter, make a layer of the sliced Clementines at the base of the salad.

14.    Then add a layer of the cooked, sliced beets while alternating the colors.

15.    Add crumbled creamy feta or goat cheese on top.
16.    Finally drizzle the mint cilantro pesto on top and serve immediately so that the beet colors do not bleed.


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  1. Permalink Submitted by Shilpa Patel on Thu, 15/11/2012 - 23:39

    beautiful! Very nice use of flavours – I’m sure it tasted fresh and clean, too!

  2. Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Fri, 16/11/2012 - 12:00

    hey Shilpa – this was one of the best things I have ever made! I’ll make it for you the next time you come over!!! It was great for the eyes and the palate!

  3. Permalink Submitted by Allison on Mon, 26/11/2012 - 17:02

    I can’t wait to give this a try myself! It’s so gorgeous I had to pin it! 🙂

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Mon, 26/11/2012 - 17:11

      Thanks Allison!!! I am addicted to this salad – have made it over and over again, since I first “invented” it. I hope you get to try it – and if possible, so send me feedback 🙂

  4. Permalink Submitted by Rachel on Mon, 14/01/2013 - 03:14

    This is the first time I’ve ever been motivated to make something with beets! I’m going ingredients shopping this week 🙂

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Mon, 14/01/2013 - 16:56

      YAYYYYY!!!! Way to be adventurous Rachel…let me know how it turned out 🙂

  5. Permalink Submitted by Rupali on Sun, 01/06/2014 - 23:38

    Hi Shabnam, I have few people over for dinner this Saturday. Main is a thai salmon and I think this will be a perfect accompaniment. Very excited to make this salad. Will tell you how it goes 🙂

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Thu, 05/06/2014 - 02:00

      Hey – I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful party! Thai Salmon sounds delicious…and tell me how this salad goes down with your friends and family – xoxo

      • Permalink Submitted by Rupali on Fri, 13/06/2014 - 00:34

        The salad was beautiful. Everyone loved it and it went so well with the other stronger flavours. Thanks for a lovely, simple recipe.
        I only had the red beets but was happy with the result. Have not seen the yellow beets in Sydney but will keep an eye out for them.
        I will email you an image of how it looked.

        • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Fri, 13/06/2014 - 01:05

          THANKS a ton for the feedback, Rupali. I am so glad you liked the salad – this is one of my favorite recipes too 🙂 Yes, the golden beets are a little difficult to find here as well. The red ones are more common but they both taste the same, so it doesn’t make much of a difference to the dish. In any case the oranges, the red beets, the white cheese and the green pesto have quite a contrast going – so the dish looks beautiful even when there are no golden beets! xoxox

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