My grandmother never made a dinner party without a cooked beet salad. She still doesn’t. It is a prerequisite. Do we have wine? Napkins? And the cooked beet salad? It’s always small, sitting in a white bowl with sliced boiled beets tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and raw garlic. It’s the raw garlic that really undoes the whole thing.
I thought I hated beets based on that salad. Turns out I just hate large chunks of raw garlic.
Some supermarkets sell vacuum-packed cooked beets in the produce section, which is such a convenient way to make a salad a bit more gourmet and interesting. I toss grated beets with olive oil, sweet balsamic vinegar, and a touch of lemon juice (like my grandmother used to), then topped it off with crumbled goat cheese and chopped mint.
I love a lettuce-less salad as a change of pace, and this one can be served as a salad or as a side. In the summer, when it’s hot, I think building up an arsenal of light, no-cook foods is very important. This salad is sweet, juicy, and crunchy, and the tang of the goat cheese and zeal of the mint liven it up, making it fresh and summery.