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Years ago this easy, traditional Moroccan Beet Salad with Vinaigrette was my introduction to cooking with fresh beets. Colorful, healthy and surprisingly delicious, beetroot salad has since become a favorite addition to family and company meals.
Not only do we genuinely enjoy the great flavor and natural sweetness of the beets, but I love the fact that they’re a superfood with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification benefits. They’re also high in Vitamin C and fiber and rich in minerals such as potassium and manganese.
How to Cook Fresh Beets
Fresh beets should be washed before cooking. Scrub very well under running water with a stiff brush then rinse well. The washed beets can then be boiled, steamed or roasted until tender, at which point the skin will easily slip off.
In Morocco, beets are often sold by the bunch, making it difficult to select uniform-sized beetroot for even cooking. Cutting the beets into same-sized pieces will help with that, and smaller pieces also mean less cooking time and therefore better preservation of the health benefits.
My usual method for cooking beets is to steam them. This is done by placing the washed beets in a steaming basket over simmering water. Cover and steam them until tender, usually about 30 minutes. When a sharp knife can be inserted easily to the center of the beets, they’re done.
In cooler months I recommend roasting, a process which draws out the natural sweetness of the beets. Preheat your oven to 425° F (220° C), wrap the beets in foil, and roast until tender. This can take 30 minutes or longer, depending on the size of the beets.
If you’d prefer to boil them, place the washed beets in salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat then simmer uncovered until the beets are tender, 30 minutes or longer. Smaller ones can be removed from the water as they finish cooking.
Making the Beet Salad
Once the beets are cooked and you’ve removed the skin, you can slice, cube or coarsely chop them. Toss them gently with the vinaigrette and serve. For best flavor, however, allow at least an hour for chilling and marinating. Or, plan ahead and make the beet salad a day or two in advance.
Looking for another way to enjoy fresh beets? Try them in this Moroccan Beetroot Juice recipe.
Moroccan Beet Salad with Vinaigrette
- 1 lb. fresh beets
- 2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped or slivered - (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley - chopped (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar - (or more to taste)
Wash and Prep the Beets
- Trim the tops off the beets, leaving short pieces of stem. Wash thoroughly under running water, scrubbing with a stiff brush to remove any dirt. Rinse and drain.
- If the beets aren't uniform in size, cut the larger beets into equal-sized pieces to match the smaller beets. Roast or steam the beets as directed below.
To Roast the Beets
- Preheat your oven to 425° F (220° C).
- Line a baking sheet or pan with a large piece of aluminum foil. Add the beets and cover with another piece of foil, crimping the edges together to tightly seal the beets within the foil.
- Place in the oven and roast until the beets are tender, about 30 minutes for smaller beets and longer for large. Test by piercing a beet with fork or sharp knife (you can do this directly through the foil); it should slide easily to the middle of the beet.
- Remove the beets from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle them. While the beets are still very warm, peel them by sliding the skins off. You can do this under running water. Rinse and drain.
To Steam the Beets
- Place the beets in a steamer basket set over a pot of simmering water. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until the beets are tender enough to easily pierce to the middle with a sharp knife.
- Allow the beets to cool until you can handle them. Under running water, slide the skins off the warm beets. Rinse and drain.
Make the Beet Salad
- Slice or chop the beets (I like to dice them) and place in a large bowl.
- Add the onions, parsley, oil and lemon juice or vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir to combine well.
- If time allows, cover and marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Before serving, stir and taste for seasoning, adding a little more lemon juice, salt or pepper as desired.
- The roasting temperature and cooking time is only a guideline. There's no problem with cooking the beets alongside other foods at higher or lower temperatures; just allow extra cooking time for lower temps and watch the beets carefully at higher ones.
- No matter the cooking method, peel the beets while very warm or hot; the skins should easily slide off. Doing this under running water can be helpful.
- To boil beets: Place whole beets in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, 30 minutes or longer, removing smaller beets before larger. Drain, peel, and proceed with the recipe.
- Sometimes Moroccan Beet Salad is served with a pinch of cinnamon and sugar added. I prefer it without those additions.
Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate obtained from online calculators. Optional ingredients may not be included in the nutritional information.