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Kauai Farmers Markets – Beet Salad Recipe

Beets take 55 to 65 days from seed to table. Daniel Lane photo

Beets take 55 to 65 days from seed to table. Daniel Lane photo

Kim and Jeff Shields moved to Kauai seven months ago. As a gift, their son bought them two tickets to our Kauai farmers market tour. The Shields were ideal guests with open minds, adventurous tastes and lots of questions. They had never had eff fruit, so they bought one to try. As I introduced them to my favorite farmers, they also bought grey oyster mushrooms, sour sop, purple cabbage, sweet potato greens, tiny orange-colored limes called calamansi and red beets with their vibrant greens still attached. They were worried that they’d forget everything they got and what they learned, so I gave them my phone number and said I’d write a blog post and include a recipe.

Kim and Jeff Shields during our farmers market tour. Marta Lane photo

Kim and Jeff Shields during our Kauai farmers market tour. Marta Lane photo

Beet greens taste similar to spinach and are simple to prepare. Simply cut the stem from the root, rinse and stack so the base of the leaves line up. With one swift move, chop the leaves from the stems. Set the leaves aside and finely dice the stalks. Pour 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil into a pan set over medium-low heat and add diced beet stems. Add one clove of minced garlic and the white of two diced scallions. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over and cook on low until tender. Meanwhile, cut beet leaves and scallion greens into 1-inch dice. Add to beet stems and fold the cooked stems over the beet greens. For a bright note, grate the zest of one small lemon over the greens. Cook on low, for another minute or two, until the leaves are wilted, dark green and fluffy. If you like things on the spicy side, you can sprinkle a little chili pepper water or hot sauce over them. Top the greens with poached eggs, as a side dish or stir into grains such as toasted and steamed quinoa.

Minty beet salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Photo by Daniel Lane

Minty beet salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Photo by Daniel Lane

I got the beet salad from an excellent farmer names Ken Lindsey. He’s a young, slender man with old time-y ethics. He spends his day in the fields, growing exceptional crops, so he like to keep things simple. Serve this salad with seared chicken or fish, and for a vegetarian option, serve with a quinoa pilaf. Serves 4.

4 to 6 beets
1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 bunch, fresh mint, leaves stripped and thinly shredded
2 tablespoons olive oil

Scrub beets clean and place in foil. Drizzle with olive oil, wrap foil around beets so they steam, and place in a oven-proof dish. Cook at 450 degrees for about an hour. Carefully open foil and pierce beets with a cake tester. It should go through with little resistance. If not, cook for another 15 minutes and check again. When finished, open foil and let beets cool to room temperature.

When you peel beets they will color your hands red, but I have found that if you immediately wash your hands with soap and water, they do not stain your hands. The skins will just slide right off. Slice beets or cut into even-size dice with a sharp knife and put into a bowl. Add vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and toss to combine. Add half of the mint to the salad and toss lightly until thoroughly combined. Place salad in fridge and chill for one hour. Serve garnished with remaining mint leaves.

If you’d like to learn more about the¬†abundance of the Garden Island, schedule your own Kauai farmers market experience!