This vegan beet salad combines the sweetness of beets, a touch of sour, a tease of spice and an oceany taste. It made me think of a cool day at the beach, a slight wind tugging at your jacket (there’s nothing quite like a winter beach in New England), your red nose breathing in cold, salty, ocean air. And let me just say, I know beets and cold beach are not necessarily the most obvious connection- beets are dark red, vibrant and warm. The winter beach tends to be made up of muted colors, and the biting frosty winds seem to have little in common with the earthy warmth of the beet. But just a few bites of this salad will tell you right away how connected they are- cool, crisp and fresh, when I close my eyes I almost felt as if I’ve been transported to the salty, windy seaside.
I really, really like beets. Most of the time I roast them in a little olive oil and salt, sometimes adding lemon, pepper, mustard or another flavor. And although roasted beets are one of my favorite things, I do sometimes wish I had more recipes in my beet arsenal- after all, variety is the spice of life, and simple changing the spices on the beets is not enough life-spice for me. This recipe was born in an effort on my part to try beets in different ways- in that same vein I’m in the process of putting together a collection of beet recipes from different vegan bloggers- I’ll try to remember to drop a link in here once it’s published! (Check it out here!)
A lot of the reason this salad reminds me of the ocean is I used dulse as one of the main flavor components. Dulse (Palmaria palmata) is a red seaweed that can be found in the northern parts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. While it can be foraged and eaten fresh, I am no expert so I purchased mine at Roland’s Sea Vegetables when I was on vacation almost a year ago. I bought a bag of dried and ground dulse flakes, and since a little bit goes a long way, it has lasted forever and found it’s way into several of my dishes (Sour Japanese Knotweed Soup, Spicy Korean Radish Salad and my secret ingredient for all my Thai food, Vegan Fish Sauce).
Roland’s Sea Vegetables is a producer of dulse, found on Grand Manon Island, NB, CA. The seaweed is collected floating around the rocks at low tide, and then are dried in the sun. Grand Manon is a place that touched my heart in the few days I spent there- my boyfriend, my friend and I left Boston around 11pm, drove all night and boarded the ferry near 7am. A fairly drunk man on the ferry gave us a brief geography lesson of the island while we blinked blearily at him. I wondered which had caused more cognitive impairment at this point- the several beers he seemed to have drunk, or hours we had spent without sleep, driving down back roads in Maine. When we got off the ferry, we had arrived hours too early to check into our rental. We drove around the entire island, looking at the jaw-dropping views and contrasted by the number of properties empty and for sale. It’s getting hard to make a living on the island, which makes business like Roland’s Sea Vegetables even more valuable.
But back to the beets- there are other components to the beet dressing aside from the dulse. One thing of note is the jalapeño- while I used to think of jalapeños as being pretty near bell peppers on the spiciness scale, recently we’ve been getting some that are really packing heat. If you are a spicy fan, but your jalapeños are not as strangely spicy as mine, feel free to add a little of a more capsicum-heavy pepper (maybe a habanero).
The first time I made this vegan beet salad I used a cheese grater to grate up my beets. I also made it with my boyfriend, which helped because we got to switch out the fairly strenuous task of beet grating (even as a cheese eater, grating was a task I avoided at all costs). The second time I made the salad, I was alone and not really feeling grating two gigantic beets on my own. Fortunately my food processor has the neatest attachment to make grating way quicker. It does add a lot on the cleanup side, but when cooking with beets I generally expect to have to clean up a lot anyways.
The last step is putting it all together- literally throw all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss. You can eat it right away, but I find it tastes better if you let it sit for a while in the fridge (the flavors seem to intensify). If you’re hoping to make a meal out of this dish, cook some quinoa and serve it on top- the juice from the beet salad will work it’s way into the quinoa, and it will be much more filling with the addition of a grain.
Vegan Seaside Beet Salad
- 2 large beets (about 1.5 lb. total)
- 1 large jalapeño
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- Juice from 2 small limes
- 1 tbsp. dulse
- 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
- ½ small onion
- 1 cup of loosely packed cilantro
1. Place the beets in a pot and cover with water. Put on the stove on high, and bring the water to a boil. Once it boils, let it cook for 3 minutes before taking off the stove and draining the liquid. Once the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and grate them. Set aside.
2. Mince the jalapeño and garlic and place in a small bowl. Juice the limes into the same bowl. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, dulse and red wine vinegar and whisk well.
3. Mince the onion and chop the cilantro finely. Place the beets, cilantro, onion and sauce in a large bowl and toss to mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Serve right away, or refrigerate for later use.