Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Beets with Yogurt & Pistachios (Pantzarosalata): A Heart-Healthy Salad for a Pink and Festive Valentine's Day

Sure, roses are lovely for Valentine's Day, chocolate is even better... But, if you really want to show someone how much you care, say it with beets. They are full of phytonutrients and provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. They are a great source of folate, and manganese, and a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C--making them effective for protecting the body from diseases--like heart disease for example. OK, maybe I haven't convinced you to forgo the holiday flowers and candy, but start off with a plate of creamy beet salad with crunchy pistachios on top and you will have earned a little chocolate for dessert.

These Beets with Yogurt & Pistachios (Pantzarosalata) are from Food From Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros. I know not everyone is a beet lover out there, but these are surprisingly good with the tangy yogurt and lemon dressing going nicely with the earth sweetness of the beets. To make this dish fit my vegan, no oil Engine 2 challenge (starting week three and still going plant-strong!), I cut the olive oil out completely and used plain soy yogurt that I strained overnight to get a creamier texture.

Tessa says, "This is the way my friend Annette makes her beet salad. I love the colors here. And its freshness, even though it looks mayonnaisy; it’s a surprise to remember that it’s actually much lighter than it looks. This is wonderful with fresh, roasted beets, or you can also use canned beets, in which case it will only take a second to put together. If you are using fresh ones and they have leaves, you can boil those too for a few minutes and dress them with olive oil to serve. If using fresh, cut the leaves well above the bulb so that they don’t bleed."

Beets with Yogurt & Pistachios (Pantzarosalata)
Very slightly adapted from Food From Many Greek Kitchens
(Serves 4 to 6)

1 lb 7 oz beets (about 4), leaves trimmed, or 1 lb 2 oz canned beets
3 Tbsp olive oil (I omitted)
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 Tbsp coarsely chopped Italian parsley
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 1/3 cups Greek yogurt (I subbed in plain soy yogurt)
1 Tbsp shelled pistachio nuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Wash the (fresh) beets well, being careful not to pierce their skins. Wrap each fresh beet individually in aluminum foil and bake for about 1 hour, until tender when tested with a sharp knife.

Whip the oil lightly in a bowl with the lemon juice and garlic.

Wearing kitchen gloves, peel the beets. Trim away the root and cut them into nice chunks. If you are using canned beets, rinse if necessary and trim away any tough end bits and cut into chunks. Put in a bowl. Add the lemon oil, parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Add the yogurt and mix gently. Scatter the pistachio nuts on top and serve.

Notes/Results: I was worried that my substitutions would change the texture and flavor too much, especially since I am not a big fan of eating soy yogurt on its own, but it actually worked quite well. Straining the yogurt removed some of the liquid and although Greek yogurt is still much creamier, once it is all mixed together it isn't that noticeable. If possible, go the roasted beets route. It sweetens the beets and gives them much better taste and texture than you get from canned. The pistachios not only look pretty on top of the pink salad, they add a great bit of texture. I served this on a bed of fresh spinach and used my heart-shaped cookie cutter to make it festive. It's a little fun, a little different, and a great way to get some healthy beets into your diet. I will make this again.

We are In the Pink this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs--cooking up some rosy-hued dishes. You can check out what everyone made by going to the site and following the links.

Happy Valentine's Day!


  1. This beet salad would fit perfectly into my eat a soup-or-salad a day resolution! And the fact htat it's so pretty in pink is a total aesthetic bonus.

  2. very pretty color, Happy Valentine's Day!

  3. Oh my gosh, Deb! That beet salad is absolutely gorgeous. I just love the way you have it plated up.

    I've never had beets before, but I would totally dig into this.

  4. Oh! So pretty =) I would perfectly happy with a plate of beautiful beets for Valentine's Day...especially w/ pistachios. Sounds fantastic.

  5. Wonderful! I have had my eye on this recipe. And I like to think my love of beets rubbed off on you.... ;-)

  6. I am a recent beet convert. What a beautiful salad.

  7. Such a beautiful dish, Deb! Great choice for pink week.

  8. This looks very pretty and I actually think this is something I would really enjoy especially with the roasted beets as you mentioned and with some fresh baby spinach... I bet it's great. I will have to put it on my list of things to try and I love that you used the heart shape!


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