Contrasting pickled beet salad with a lemony chickpea mash, the combination delivers zest and comfort in one bite. Perfect for a light lunch or to share with your friends.
Why You’ll This Pickled Beet Salad
This is one of those salads where I was surprised by the unassuming flavours.
The sharpness of the pickled beet salad gives your tastebuds a good twang and then comes along the lemony chickpea mash with a delicious, comforting mouthfeel.
Adding lemon to the chickpea mash was probably my ah-ha moment. The aromas that the lemon exuded in the nutty mixture was just perfect. It really helps cut through the richness of the mixture, adding extra zest to the overall pickled beet salad.
I loved the contrasting combination. Perfect as a light lunch or to share with friends over a long catch up. I had crusty bread alongside, and it was yum.
What Goes Well with Beets?
You probably can guess we love beets at The Devil Wears Salad. We have quite a few beet salad recipes and even one by Amy that showcases its versatility with her 3 Way Beetroot and Feta Salad.
I only started to eat beets as an adult. We did not have it as children as it is not a popular vegetable in Asian cooking. I love using beets in my cooking now. Roasting beets is my favourite way to cook them. The earthy sweetness comes out perfectly when roasting beets.
And there is no wasting of beets as you can consume the leaves too! Baby beet leaves are often found in standard supermarket salad mix.
Being such a versatile vegetable, what goes well with beets?
Beets are great with other root vegetables like carrot, celeriac and radishes. I also like beets with onions and leeks. The earthy sweetness is balanced well with leafy greens like rocket leaves, spinach and swiss chard.
Cheese and nuts are fantastic pairings with beets. Beets and goats cheese is a classic match, but salty feta and halloumi also work well. I like using walnuts, pine nuts and pistachios when cooking with beets.
And finally, if you are looking for something sweet, try dark chocolate. I am a big fan of beetroot and chocolate brownies. So moist and decadent!
How to Pickle Beets
I have marinated roasted beets with balsamic vinegar before, but I have not tried pickled beetroot. The process was a lot easier than I thought.
You can easily make a jar of pickled beetroot and store it in the fridge—a great addition to an antipasto platter, cold meats or open toasted sandwiches.
For my pickled beetroot, I selected red wine vinegar as I love the sharpness and intense flavours. You can use other vinegar like white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or brown malt vinegar.
To add extra flavour, I included lemon thyme for its minty citrus flavours, but I have also seen other additions like peppercorn, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, bay leaves, mustard seeds, cloves and garlic. You can easily mix and match according to your taste.
The steps to how to pickle beetroot are fairly simple:
- cook and peel beets
- cut or slice into size
- add pickling liquid and spices
- transfer to a clean pickling jar and seal
- leave in fridge and allow the flavours to develop
Flavour/Texture: There are a few accentuating flavours in this pickled beet salad. First is the sharp but earthy flavours of the pickled beetroot, along with the red onions and a hint of lemon thyme.
The nutty chickpea mash counterbalances this tartness. Peppery rocket leaves add freshness to the overall dish.
I love how the creamy chickpea mash wraps around the pickled beetroot cubes to create an interesting mouthfeel and delicious textures.
Ease: This vegetarian beet salad was less work than I thought. Pickling beets takes a little more time, but you don’t have to watch over them. Plus, the food processor does all the work for the chickpea mash.
Time: Depending on how long you wish to pickle the beets, this recipe will take at least an hour to cook and pickle the beets. You can prepare the chickpea mash whilst the beetroot is cooking.
Beets: A delicious and versatile vegetable. You can eat beets raw, roasted, boiled, pickled, creamed, fried and baked. Select two medium sized red beets for this recipe.
Red onion: I love pickled red onion as it softens the heat and adds a whole lot of punch to a dish.
Lemon thyme: A versatile herb with citrus flavours and minty notes. Great to pair with fish, chicken or even a lemon tart.
Red wine vinegar: A great multipurpose vinegar to have in the pantry. Made from red wine, it is possibly one of the more punchy vinegars with intense flavours. I love the acidity for pickled beetroot.
Water: To balance the flavours and add volume to the pickling liquid.
Chickpeas: Chickpeas has to be one of those legumes that slips off the radar and goes unnoticed even though most of us will have it in one form or another stored in our fridge or pantry.
Most people will know chickpeas through ever so popular hummus, but it can be so much more than a dip. A versatile ingredient you can use chickpeas in so many different dishes. Check out our pairings with chickpeas for more ideas.
Lemon juice/zest: Both elements of lemon adds something different to the chickpea mash. Lemon juice adds acidity to the thick consistency of chickpea mash whilst lemon zest adds citrus aroma, which helps lift the whole dish.
Garlic: It is never dull with garlic. I love adding garlic to give a little depth and punch.
Greek yoghurt: To help break up the richness in chickpea mash and add a little extra tartness, Greek yoghurt plays the role perfectly.
Rocket leaves: Adds the peppery freshness much needed in this salad.
Extra virgin olive oil: Your choice of good quality extra virgin olive oil to finish the salad.
Sea salt and cracked black pepper: To taste
How to Make the Salad
Place two whole beets in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water.
Bring pot to boil and cook for about 30 minutes or until beets are tender. Use a skewer to pierce the beet if you want to check.
Drain water and set aside to cool.
Peel beets and cut up into approx 1 cm cubes.
Peel and thinly slice red onion into half moons.
Wash a few sprigs of thyme.
In a small saucepan, combine red wine vinegar with water, white sugar, salt and pepper. Over low heat, stir until sugar is dissolved.
In a bowl, place cut beets, thyme, red onion and red wine vinegar pickling liquid together. Cover and place in fridge to pickle. Leave for at least 30 minutes, overnight even better.
Drain and rinse chickpeas from can and place into food processor.
Add 3 tbsp yoghurt, garlic cloves, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste.
Blitz until you get a semi coarse texture. We are not looking for a smooth hummus. I would like to have chunks of chickpeas for texture.
Wash and shake dry rocket leaves.
How to Assemble the Salad
On a large plate, scoop chickpea mash and spread across the plate in a circular motion.
Add 1 tablespoon of greek yoghurt on top of chickpea mash.
Next layer rocket leaves.
Finally, top with pickled beet salad.
Add cracked black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to finish.
Serve with toasted bread or as a part of a larger antipasto/mezze meal.
Variations and Substitutions
Vegan option: Omit Greek yoghurt in the chickpea mash and when assembling. Add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the chickpea mash before blitzing. This will help to combine and not so dry. Adjust as required.
Replacing lemon thyme: For this recipe, I am not using a lot of lemon thyme, so you can use either thyme or lemon thyme, depending on what you have available.
Red wine vinegar substitute: You can use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar if you don’t have red wine vinegar in the pantry for pickled beetroot.
Beet varieties: I have used red beets in this pickled beet salad, but you can also try different varieties like golden beets, baby beets or even candy striped ones.
Substituting canned for dried chickpeas: Yes, you can substitute canned chickpeas for dried chickpeas. For one can of chickpeas, use ½ cup of dried chickpeas.
Great Mains for This Salad
Pan seared Chilean sea bass: This is a beautiful buttery fish that has a delicate flaky texture. The skin when cooked properly gives a perfect textural contrast to the soft meat of the fish. Sea Bass makes the perfect addition to this beet salad completing the dish with healthy protein.
Slow cooker short ribs: These short ribs cook all day in the slow cooker ending with fall off the bone meat filled with delicious flavour. Short ribs will complement the flavours of pickled beets and red onions salad with the perfect contrast of sweet and savoury.
Flaky air fryer salmon: The delicate and savoury flavours of salmon perfectly complement the sweet and tangy flavour of pickled onions and beets. Also, salmon has a great nutrition profile, rounding out the healthy meal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let cooked beets cool or run under water, so it is cool enough to handle.
Then, hold the beet in your hands, gently squeeze and then peel off the skin in a wiping motion. The skin should easily come off a cooked beet. Rinse hands under water after finish. There should be minimal stains or mess.
I haven’t used dried chickpeas before; therefore, I can not say they are better in taste, but I understand that dried chickpeas retain more nutty flavour and hold their shape better.
Best to prep dried chickpeas the day before you need to use them as you have to soak in water (generally overnight) and then cook for a few hours until tender and ready to eat. They are also cheaper if bought in bulk and stores well in the pantry.
However, I generally don’t have the time, so for me, canned chickpeas are far simpler. Especially in this chickpea mash recipe, the chickpeas are blitzed. I don’t need it to hold shape as much as eating whole or roasting like our Swiss Brown Mushroom Salad with chickpeas or Baby cauliflower with spiced chickpeas.
Thyme is a popular herb in many different dishes as it is not as strong as other herbs but still adds a minty, earthy flavour. Lemon thyme is similar to thyme in appearance and has a similar flavour profile but a strong citrus aroma and taste.
Thyme and lemon thyme can be handled the same way in the kitchen. They are great pairings with meats, poultry, fish, vegetables and even sweet dishes.
You can easily prepare all the elements ahead of time, even the day before. Pickled beet salad is probably better left overnight. The chickpea mash also stores well overnight.
Yes, of course. Store pickled beet salad, chickpea mash, and rocket leaves in different containers, and then assemble at your destination.
I had extra pickled beet salad and chickpea mash leftover after plating so I stored them separately in the fridge and had the chickpea mash on toast the next day. The pickled beet salad I added to an antipasto platter. No wastage at all!
As much as I love the combination of pickled beetroot and chickpea mash together, both components also work well separately. They can each be enjoyed as a standalone dish.
Plus they store well so you can whip up easy lunches any time of the week. How good is that? You basically get two recipes in one!
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Pickled Beet Salad with Chickpea Mash
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- Place beets in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring pot to boil and cook for about 30 minutes or until beets are tender. Drain water and set aside to cool. Peel beets and cut up into approx 1 cm cubes.
- Peel and thinly slice red onion into half moons.
- Wash a few sprigs of lemon thyme.
- In a small saucepan, combine red wine vinegar with water, white sugar, salt and pepper. Over low heat, stir until sugar is dissolved.
- In a bowl, place cut beets, thyme, red onion and red wine vinegar pickling liquid together. Cover and place in fridge to pickle. Leave for at least 30 minutes, overnight even better.
- Drain and rinse chickpeas from can and place into food processor. Add 3 tablespoons of yoghurt, garlic cloves, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. Blitz until you get a semi coarse texture.
- Wash and shake dry rocket leaves.
- On a large plate, scoop chickpea mash and spread across the plate in a circular motion.
- Add 1 tablespoon of Greek yoghurt on top of chickpea mash.
- Next, layer rocket leaves.
- Finally, top with pickled beet salad.
- Add cracked black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to finish.
- For a vegan salad, omit Greek yoghurt in the chickpea mash and when assembling. Add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the chickpea mash before blitzing. This will help it to combine and not so dry. Adjust as required.
- For this recipe, I am not using a lot of lemon thyme, so you can use either thyme or lemon thyme, depending on what you have available.
- You can use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar if you don’t have red wine vinegar in the pantry for pickled beets.
- I have used red beets in this pickled beet salad, but you can also try different varieties like golden beets, baby beets or even candy striped ones.
- You can substitute canned chickpeas for dried chickpeas. For one can of chickpeas, use ½ cup of dried chickpeas.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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