FFWD – Chunky Beets and Icy Red Onions

The dressed beets are yellow and white striped than rather than beet-coloured.

I’ve never understood why beets are on the no go list for so many people. They show up on the plate in so many different ways, they’re good through all four seasons, and they’re sweet and earthy without being too assertive. I hated pickles growing up, but my mother’s pickled beets were the exception. The only thing that can spoil borscht is too much vinegar. How many vegetables are good steamed, boiled, roasted or raw? You can even make cake with them.

Ingredients for the vinaigrette.

Raw onions, however, give me pause. A little of those go a long way for me. I’ve even been known to discreetly slide thick rings of raw onion from sandwiches. I like them best when they’re chopped finely and used sparingly. The inclusion of raw onions in this week’s French Fridays recipe didn’t pose a problem for me, because they are thinly sliced and soaked in cold water to get the worst of the bite out. Then, they’re plunged into ice water until it’s time to sprinkle them on the salad.

Slivers of onion and ice cubes floating in water.

The salad itself is made of cooked, diced beets in a herbed honey-mustard vinagrette. I roasted some heirloom beets, striped to match the red onion, and substituted Italian parsley for the fresh oregano. The tamed onions make a nice, crunchy contrast to the roasted beets. This salad can be dressed up (as in Trevor’s version) or dressed down – I served mine with Dubliner/thyme scrambled eggs.

The completed salad in a fluted white bowl sitting in a green glass dish.

For dessert, I roasted strawberries using Heidi Swanson’s method and served them over lemon sorbet. I substituted cognac for the port, but that didn’t seem to diminish the goodness.

The roasted strawberries over lemon sorbet in a small, squared dish in front of a romanesque tile.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Chunky Beets and Icy Red Onions


29 thoughts on “FFWD – Chunky Beets and Icy Red Onions

  1. I have never seen beets like these before, but they are gorgeous! You are braver than me in trying the raw onion despite your dislike for them – I used jarred caramelized onion instead.

    1. Thanks! I’m lucky to have access to heritage beets from a couple of local markets, along with the farmers’ markets. I was a little worried about the onions, but as long as you cut them into very small slices, the ice water trick does wonders. I think caramelized onions would be great with this, too.

    1. Thanks, Liz! I really liked this salad. It’s so easy to get into a salad rut – AMFT has given me a number of good ideas to keep them interesting.

  2. One of the reasons I passed on this salad was the use of raw onion…I love beets but my husband doesn’t and he hates onions! Your salad looks wonderful and your description makes me want to try it! Great job!

    1. Thanks, Kathy! You should try the icy onions – I was so surprised at how mild and crunchy they were. You might be surprised at how much you like it.

  3. Hi Teresa, I don’t understand why beets freak some people out and the red onions too!
    I guess I like everything especially beets and have always considered them a treat. I forgot about using beets in a chocolate cake and I also like grated raw beets in a salad. Your salad looks delicious and I’ll be making Dorie’s vinaigrette again, I enjoyed it on the beets;-)

    1. I’ve always considered them a treat, too. Grated raw beets are awesome – all the goodness and none of the heat in the kitchen. The vinaigrette was really good.

  4. I love beets too! One of these days I’ll learn how to pickle them. Those striped beets you found are gorgeous – you made a lovely salad.

    1. Thanks, Marcella. Beets are one of my favourites. I’m trying to grow some beets and am going to try and rope my mother into teaching me how to pickle some of them.

  5. Good morning Teresa. Your description is lovely and your photos are WOW. I should re-do this recipe, it just did not click with me this week, and I love beets. Maybe it was all that raw onion…way too much. And I should have thought about something that would have complimented the beet salad rather than let it hide. Oh well, it’s nice to see what you all have done and I am getting inspired.

    1. Thanks, Krissy! I don’t think I used quite as much onion as was called for in the recipe, as I had some leftover. Even so, I could have eaten more of it, since the worst of the bite had been taken away. I’m glad you’re getting inspired to have another go at it!

  6. Your beets are beautiful. Now, there’s a sentence you don’t write everyday. The key to the onions is slicing them thin. It didn’t have the same effect when my husband cut them thicker when making bruschetta. They were still good, but I like the bite of the onions before I discovered Dorie’s soaking method.

    1. That’s true! I agree that it’s important to make the slices very thin. I love the heritage beet varieties that have become available. They look beautiful and they have their own flavour qualities, too.

  7. Beautiful color on those beets!
    We always had beets out of a can as a child – and they were pretty off-putting. I am still not a fan (although, I am loving them baked into chips) and find that I like the golden ones roasted. Maybe someday 🙂

    1. Thanks, Cher! I’m not sure commercially canned beets should be allowed, though I hear Australians like them on their hamburgers. I think you just need to keep trying the freshest ones you can find and try some heritage varieties – the flavours can differ a lot.

  8. Those beets are beautiful! I’m making this today. I used some of the icy onions for next week’s salmon en papilotte, which I’m having tonight for dinner with the beet salad, and Dorie’s salmon and potatoes in a jar.

  9. I also wonder why there aren’t more beet fans out there. When I serve a beet salad for company, so many pass. No sense of adventure on their part, but it means more for me 🙂 This wasn’t my favorite version of beet salad, though I liked the onion treatment. Like you, I don’t love raw onions, but the icy water worked. I used this trick on a pasta salad tonight. I just love your photo with the ice cubes. It has such interesting reflections. Great post!

    1. Thanks, Betsy! More for me is a good thing, but I still feel people are missing out. My partner wouldn’t even try this salad. I’m also going to be using the icy onion method for other dishes.

  10. Hi Theresa…nice meeting you and thanks for dropping by my blog. I am so glad I joined the FFWD group and get to meet so many nice people who shared the same passion like I do. Love Dorie and her recipes 🙂 Your beets looks so good and I have never seen this color, like a salmon fillets 🙂 Love your pics…they are great ! Beautiful !

    Have a nice day,

    1. Thanks, Elin – great to meet you, too. They do look like salmon fillets, don’t they? I might have to make some more when I make the salmon recipe for this week’s post.

  11. Your beets look so gorgeous, they have different shades of red to them:-) The beet is definitely a beautiful vegetable that can be enjoyed anytime of the year:-)
    Hugs, Terra

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