Spicy Pickled Beets: Holiday Crunch


I've had the great fortune of not having to worry about making my own lunch recently.

Up in the woods of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., I wake up every day to breakfast and a prepared lunchbox, courtesy of a precious place that graciously gives artists (and misfits like me) space, time and food to create. (You can donate to the cause here. No, really. DO IT.)

I haven't forgotten my Let's Lunch friends, though — so, just for a day, I'm coming out of seclusion to share a recipe for a holiday side that's a true knockout: Spicy pickled beets …

Before we start, a confession: I can't take any credit for this recipe.

Chef Brad Farmerie (of Public and Double Crown in New York) was lovely enough to share it with me recently when I interviewed him about Thanksgiving for The Wall Street Journal. In the words of Farmerie, "This is a great way to turn the humble beet into a Thanksgiving homerun — the bright colors make this dish visually appealing." Another plus: Beets will add crunch to holiday meals in which sides often meander much too much into soft and mushy.

The process is fairly easy — the hardest part is roasting the beets and trying to get them all to the same degree of doneness if they are of different sizes. And the truly great part about this recipe is that you can do it far ahead of your holiday dinner, freeing you up for heavy lifting when your meal's around the corner. And the longer you keep them pickling, the spicier they get. (I especially love how the ginger is a tart foil to heavy holiday meats like beef and ham.)

I'd say more but the writing beckons again. Once I'm back among the living, I promise to be more verbose.

But in the meantime, happy holidays, buon appetito and Let's Lunchers, I'll see you in 2011!


If you'd like to join Let's Lunch, go to Twitter and post a message with the hashtag #Letslunch — or, post a comment below.

And don't forget to see other Let's Lunchers' holiday sides below:

Cathy's Celeriac Slaw at Showfood Chef

Danielle's French Leek Gratin at Bon Vivant

Ellise's Mushroom Leek Quinoa Salad at Cowgirl Chef

Emma's Peasant Bread at Dreaming of Pots and Pans 

Karen's "Side Dish of Life" at Geofooding

Linda's Green Bean Casserole at Free Range Cookies

Mai Hoang's Kimchi Risotto Bake at Cooking In The Fruit Bowl

Rashda's Festive Green Beans at Hot Curries and Cold Beer

Steff's Parker House Rolls with Molasses Butter at The Kitchen Trials


Brad Farmerie's Spicy Pickled Beets

(Serves about 10 as a side dish)


2 ½lb beets

1 red chili- seeds removed and finely chopped (can substitute jalapeno or Serrano)
5 garlic cloves- finely chopped
1 thumb sized knob of ginger- peeled and finely chopped
¾ cup Muscavado sugar (can substitute dark brown sugar)
1 cup Forum Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar (or other high quality red wine vinegar)
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat your oven to 350F. Rinse the beets and wrap them in aluminum foil – put the foil wrapped beets on a baking tray. Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake until a knife can be inserted and removed easily (about 40-90 minutes depending on the size of the beet). Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the beets to cool completely. Take the foil off and rub the skins off of the beets. Cut the beets into large chunks.

Combine all of the ingredients except beets in a pot and reduce in volume by one quarter. Pour mixture over beets and refrigerate for at least 24 hours (preferably longer)

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