These smoky grilled beets are perfectly paired with a fresh mint and parsley pesto. A finishing touch of cultured vegan cashew cheese and peppery micro greens rounds out the perfect bite. Roughly 10 ingredients and simple cooking methods yield an unusual and flavourful vegetable side dish. Instructions for roasting the beets are also included in this recipe.
A little seasonal bridge recipe for us today! I generally associate beets with colder times of the year, but they are getting pulled up now where I live. They’re also blissfully available all year because of the miracle of cold storage.
Today, we’re doing grilled beets with a unique minty pistachio pesto, some microgreens, and a little bit of crumbled vegan cultured cashew cheese on top (I like this brand and this brand). That last bit is definitely optional! This beet recipe has tons of flavour going on without it.
This recipe would be great with a summery salad and dip spread, or equally good as a unique addition to your menu of vegan holiday recipes. It’s flavourful, a little unexpected, and surprisingly versatile!
Beets are one of my favourite vegetables, but I just don’t find myself preparing them very often. I usually like to cook in a spontaneous way most of the time, and beets tend to need a little bit of love, prep, and forethought. I do a very light version of meal prep on the weekends–I’ll cut a head of cauliflower/broccoli into florets and cook up a batch of beans and a pot of grains, but that’s the extent of it. This week, I boiled beets in salted water until tender as part of the prep, and here we are!
The earthy, slightly sweet flavour of beets pairs well with peppery and fresh herbs, acidic components like lemon, creamy and mellow things (the vegan cheese!), and roast-y/nutty flavours (like pistachios). All components are represented in this dish! If you find yourself loving these grilled beets, you’ll probably like my Crushed Beets with Chunky Olive & Mint Dressing.
I hope that you’re all keeping well and looking after yourselves these days. Sending my love.
Smoky Grilled Beets with Mint & Parsley Pistachio Pesto
- 2 bunches medium-sized beets, scrubbed (about 750 grams)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained
- ¼ cup shelled pistachios
- 1 cup mint leaves, very lightly packed
- 1 cup parsley leaves, lightly packed
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons light miso
- ⅓ cup olive oil, plus extra
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- Handful micro greens, such as arugula or watercress (optional)
- 1 oz crumbled soft vegan cheese of choice (I used one by VegNature)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, drop the beets into the water. Bring the beets up to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 30-40 minutes. Drain the beets and set aside to cool slightly. Once you can handle them, slip the skins off of the beets. Set the peeled beets aside.
- While the beets are simmering, make the pesto. In a food processor fitted with the “S” blade, place the garlic, capers, and pistachios. Pulse these items a couple times until finely chopped. Then, to the food processor, add the mint, parsley, lemon juice, miso, salt, and pepper (being careful on the salt because the miso and capers are quite salty). Pulse this mixture until the herbs are finely chopped. Then, with the motor on low, drizzle the olive oil in through the feed tube until you have a slightly fluid paste. Scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl and pulse a couple more times. Check the pesto for seasoning, adjust if necessary, and set aside.
- Preheat a grill to high. Cut the beets into halves (or into quarters if you like and don’t mind fussing with them on the grill). Place the cut beets in a medium bowl and toss them with olive oil, the smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Once evenly coated, set aside.
- Using tongs, carefully place the beets on your preheated grill. Let them sit for about 4-5 minutes, or until there is some slight charring on the side facing the grill. Flip the pieces of beet over and grill for another 4-5 minutes to get slight charring on the other side. Remove the beets from the grill.
- To serve, spread the pesto out evenly on a dinner plate-sized platter. Arrange the grilled smoky beets on top. Top the beets with the micro greens, the crumbled vegan cheese (if using), some extra mint, a few twists of black pepper, and some extra capers if you like. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- You could also roast the beets. Just fully dry the boiled beets, cut them into halves or quarters, and then toss them with olive oil, the smoked paprika, salt, and pepper before spreading out on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 for about 25 minutes or until you get some light caramelization on the edges.
- Use any soft style vegan cheese that you like. I crumbled some VegNature’s Herbes de Provence log here.
- If your beets came with beautiful greens, save them! I usually just sauté them with garlic, chili, and a splash of sherry vinegar at the end.