Golden Beet Salad with Pine Nuts and Goat Cheese

This Golden Beet Salad with Pine Nuts and Goat Cheese is the perfect side to any meal. Healthy, elegant, and easy to make. Jump ahead to the recipe here, or read on and get it at the bottom of this post.

Golden Beet Salad with Pine Nuts and Goat Cheese

Somewhere in the advent of commercial canning, people learned to hate beets. Perhaps it’s because being boiled in their own juices in a tin can dulls their sweetness, leaving them with little to no character and a mushy, over-emphasized flavor of earthiness some find too reminiscent of the dirt they were grown in.

The truth is, if that’s what you’re judging a beet by, you’ve closed the door on a vegetable that has so much more to offer. Yes, beets are earthy, but they are also sweet, and vegetal, and complex. Roasting them in the oven brings out that sweetness, and marinating them lightly with vinegar and olive oil brightens their flavor even more. If you’re wanting to change your mind about a beet, this might just be the way to do it.

Golden Beet Salad with Pine Nuts and Goat Cheese

Then again, I’m not really one say whether this salad will change your mind on beets or not, because I’ve been a beet lover for as long as I can remember. I credit this to never having been forced to eat canned or poorly prepared beets as a child, and instead my first introduction was roasted beets dressed with orange vinaigrette and wilted arugula. I’ve been enamored ever since, but even I can detect what others hate when I take a bite of canned beet. That tinny, dirty flavor is not doing this controversial veggie any favors.

Golden beets are a little less known than their bright red brethren, but just as tasty. I happen to think they have a lighter flavor than red beets, too. I’m not sure if this is purely psychological or not —  one of these days I’ll have to do a blind tasting and report back on my findings — but either way, I like to think they’re a good place to start if you’re on the fence about beets. Or just wanting to handle them without staining your cutting board.

If you’re like me, and a beet lover through and through, this salad is a must to have in your repertoire. Roasting the beets whole takes a bit of time, but doing so saves you the task of peeling them while they’re raw (once they’re cooked, the skins rub off easily, which is a godsend). You can use all golden beets like I did, or red, or a mix — or even little chioggia (candy stripe) beets if you can find them. And if time is an issue, the salad does well being made in advance. Just dress it with the olive oil and vinegar before storing it in the fridge, and add the herbs and such just before serving.

Golden Beet Salad with Pine Nuts and Goat Cheese

This salad is incredibly simple: just beets, olive oil, vinegar, and herbs, and the pine nuts and goat cheese to dress it up a little. If you’re allergic to nuts, or not a fan of goat cheese, leave them off. As for the herbs, that’s where the fun is — you can change the whole personality of the dish just by using whatever herbs you have on hand. I used parsley and mint this time, but I’ve included plenty of other ideas in the recipe notes. I suggest trying it different ways to find what you like best.

Are you a natural beet lover, or did you have to learn to like them? And if you did, what was the recipe that changed your mind? I’d love to know in the comments!

5.0 from 5 reviews
Golden Beet Salad with Pine Nuts and Goat Cheese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This salad is simple and elegant, and the perfect accompaniment to any main course. Naturally gluten-free, easily made vegan (just omit the goat cheese).
Serves: 4 servings
  • 4-5 medium golden beets
  • 1-2 TBSP white wine vinegar
  • 1-2 TBSP good olive oil
  • 3 TBSP freshly chopped parsley
  • 3 TBSP freshly chopped mint, or other herb*
  • ¼ - ½ cup crumbled goat cheese, or feta, or other crumbly cheese like gorgonzola, to taste
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. If the beets have their greens attached, remove them and save them for another use. Scrub the beets well to remove any dirt, and wrap each tightly in aluminum foil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for about an hour, or until the beets are tender all the way through. Check them by carefully peeling back a little of the foil, and piercing them with a knife -- if the knife slides through easily, they're done.
  2. Remove the beets from the foil pouches and let rest until they are cool enough to handle. Once they are, rub them gently with your thumbs to remove the skins -- they should come off easily at this point. If they don't, it may mean your beets are undercooked and need a little longer in the oven.
  3. Once all of the skins have been removed, cut away the remaining stub of the stem end, and cut the beets into wedges. Place the wedges in a bowl, and toss with the vinegar, olive oil, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Let the beets marinate for 10-15 minutes, or longer if you want, to absorb some of the vinegar. (If you're making the salad in advance, you can store it in the fridge at this point for up to a day. When ready to serve, continue with the recipe.)
  4. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring or shaking the pan frequently to keep them from burning, until they are golden brown in places. Crumble the cheese, chop the herbs, and add all to the bowl with the beets. Taste, and add a bit more salt, pepper, vinegar, or olive oil, if you feel it needs it.
  5. Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.
*You can mix up the flavor of this salad in a million different ways, just by swapping the mint for a small amount of any other fresh herb, or herbs, you like. Fennel fronds, basil, dill, chervil, chives, or just a little bit of tarragon would all be amazing. Feel free to use whatever you have on hand, or what's available, and change it up to find what you like best.

This salad can of course be made with red beets, or chioggia beets, in place of or in addition to the golden beets -- I chose golden for this salad because I think they are underrated. They are also slightly less earthy tasting than red beets, and won't stain everything they touch pink.

Feel free to omit the cheese if you'd like to make this salad vegan, and if you're allergic to nuts, leave off the pine nuts or swap them for sunflower seeds or pepitas.


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26 Responses to Golden Beet Salad with Pine Nuts and Goat Cheese

  1. Tori//Gringalicious April 13, 2016 at 6:03 am #

    Yummy! Golden beets are something that I’ve never tried but always wanted to so I need to do this!

    • Willow Arlen April 13, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

      Thanks Tori, I hope you give it a try! Golden beets are so good!

  2. Petunia April 13, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

    I made this last night (used feta)… cannot think of the words to describe how delicious this is. I am eating the leftovers for lunch today which means I will be making it again VERY soon. Thank you for this recipe!

    • Willow Arlen April 13, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

      Thanks, Petunia, I’m so glad you liked it! This makes my day!

  3. Kathryn @ Family Food on the Table April 13, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

    Totally a natural beet lover! I didn’t have them growing up, so I also experienced them first in a proper way, roasted to perfection and part of a gorgeous salad. I’ve grown beets before (not well) and my kiddos love them too. My mom, however, must have grown up on canned because she’s one of those “it tastes like dirt” people, no matter what I say to the contrary. So I’ll just have to make her this gorgeous salad and change her mind! Pinned!

    • Willow Arlen April 13, 2016 at 3:48 pm #

      Beet lovers, unite! Fresh beets are the best, and while I’m sure there are those who dislike them in general, you have to at least try them properly before dismissing them. When my brother and I were kids, that was the one rule in our house — we didn’t have to eat something if we didn’t like it, but we had to give it an honest try. Now that I do more cooking than my parents, I find they have all kinds of dislikes based on things they had as children (mostly from cans, or horribly overcooked), and it has been fun to change their minds on so many of them. There are definitely some solid dislikes out there, but more often than not I think it has to do with mistreatment of the food, or a bad first experience, that causes people’s aversions. Nine times out of ten my mom will go on and on about how much she hates something, and then I set it down in front of her and she’s all “oh — oh, this is really good!” Haha! :)

  4. Sam | Ahead of Thyme April 13, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

    Wow! This salad looks incredible!! I just had lunch but you are making me hungry again!

  5. Sarah - The Charming Detroiter April 13, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

    I totally agree with you on the canned vs. fresh beets issue. It’s sad that people base their opinion of an ingredient on bad experiences sometimes! Fresh beets are definitely the way to go. I am excited to try this recipe because I just found that my local market carries golden beets and I’ve been looking for something to try them with! Thanks for posting this recipe :)

    • Willow Arlen April 13, 2016 at 3:50 pm #

      Absolutely, fresh are so much better than canned. I’m sure there are still people who have a genuine dislike of beets, but if all you’re judging them by is one bad experience, it’s not really fair to the poor vegetable. I hope you do give this salad a try!

      P.S. — Ah! I just saw you’re from Detroit! I’m in Ann Arbor — we should get together and cook sometime!

  6. Catherine April 13, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

    The golden color in this dish is beautiful….such a fabulous Spring dish. Love this! xo, Catherine

  7. Tracy | Baking Mischief April 13, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

    I didn’t even know beets came in golden! They sure do make for a gorgeous salad. I have to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of beets, canned or fresh, but I’ll have to give this milder version a try!

    • Willow Arlen April 13, 2016 at 4:38 pm #

      Thanks Tracy, I hope you do give them a try! I’m always finding that my tastes change over time, too, so it’s always worth giving things another go. I hope you like the golden beets!

  8. Jolina - The Unlikely Baker April 13, 2016 at 5:02 pm #

    I love beets! I don’t get why people don’t like them. I mean, I even like the canned variety (yikes!). I haven’t heard or seen golden beets though. MUST. FIND.

    • Willow Arlen April 13, 2016 at 6:36 pm #

      Haha, no shame in that! I don’t mind a canned beet every now and then, but they don’t hold a candle to fresh in my mind. They certainly aren’t doing beet haters any favors! I hope you can find some golden beets, but even if not, this salad is great with any kind!

  9. Ellen April 13, 2016 at 11:29 pm #

    Always have loved beets. My mother once exited the bathroom screaming in horror thinking my brother was dying (he had not flushed). Turns out he had snuck into the pantry and helped himself to her proposed evening meal salad of fresh beets. Maybe ‘golden’ beets will alleviate this problem!
    Guess what I’m making for dinner tomorrow?
    PS: I’m already sold on your roasted warm (red) beet salad

    • Willow Arlen April 18, 2016 at 11:49 am #

      Oh no, haha! Golden beets definitely don’t have that issue. I’m so glad you like my other beet salad recipe, too — that’s an oldie but a goodie!

  10. Brie April 14, 2016 at 4:40 pm #

    I loooove beets too! This salad is gorgeous, I can just imagine the light vinegar, fresh herbs and how amazing it will taste. Pinned so I can actually enjoy it and not just salivate at my computer screen :)

    And you are so right about roasting beets whole…I peeled and chopped some beets before roasting last week for the first and last time, my fingers were pink for three days :)

    • Willow Arlen April 18, 2016 at 11:50 am #

      Thanks, Brie! I sometimes peel first so I can cut them up into smaller pieces that will roast faster, but wow, when you’ve got the time to roast them whole, it really is easier. I hope you try the salad sometime, it is SO good!

  11. Tricia @ Saving room for dessert April 16, 2016 at 7:10 pm #

    This is a lovely recipe Willow! So pretty too :)

  12. Lauren @ Lauren Caris Cooks April 18, 2016 at 3:14 am #

    Oh my goodness what a delicious salad!!! I have never had golden beets (I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them here) but I will be trying this with pink beets!!

    • Willow Arlen April 18, 2016 at 11:53 am #

      Thanks, Lauren! It would still be just as amazing with red beets — I hope you give it a try sometime!

  13. Sarah @ Champagne Tastes April 20, 2016 at 7:57 am #

    This looks delicious! I didn’t even know golden beets were a thing! I haven’t had a beet in years because I was sick of eating the canned ones as a kid.. But I keep seeing amazing looking beet recipes. I need to try them again!

  14. Megan April 20, 2016 at 10:28 am #

    I love beats and am constantly trying to win people over to the dark side. I agree with you, golden beets are lighter and slightly less earthy tasting. I’ll see if this recipe can make a beat lover out of my family (I’m the odd one out).

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