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Pickled Beet and Charred Broccoli Salad
Pickled Beet and Charred Broccoli Salad Photo courtesy of Angie Mosier

Kevin Gillespie’s seemingly simple beet and broccoli salad is in fact a four-bowl recipe. That’s a lot of dishes to tackle post-prep, but after tasting this showstopping starter, we can honestly say we’d face those dishes again for a chance to repeat the dining experience. The recipe appears in the Top Chef alum’s first cookbook, Fire in My Belly, and puts the earthy sweetness of the beets and the meaty broccoli on full display. A tangle of frisée and creamy goat-cheese dressing complete a dish that’s ideal for impressing company but equally delicious enjoyed solo when you want to treat yourself very, very well.

Makes 4 side-dish servings


1½ cups red wine vinegar

1½ cups sugar

⅓ cup pickling spice

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise pod

4 baseball-size beets (about 2 pounds)--trimmed, peeled and cut into 1-inch wedges



1 medium broccoli crown, trimmed and cut into small florets

¼ cup (2 ounces) fresh goat cheese

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Kosher salt

1 cup frisée, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

1. Make the beets: In a medium saucepan, combine the red wine vinegar with the sugar, pickling spice, cinnamon and star anise. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the spices steep for 10 minutes. Strain; reserve the liquid and discard the spices.

2. Return the liquid to the saucepan, add the beets and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the beets for 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the beets cool slightly in the liquid. (They will finish cooking as they cool.)

3. Make the broccoli: Heat a medium cast-iron skillet over high heat until very hot. Drop half of the broccoli florets into the skillet. After about 30 seconds, toss the florets, then continue tossing as they char and cook, about 3 minutes total. Transfer the first batch of broccoli to a plate and repeat with the remaining broccoli. Refrigerate the charred broccoli until ready to serve.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the goat cheese with the lemon juice, 1½ teaspoons of water and a pinch of salt until smooth. In a separate bowl, toss the frisée with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Set both bowls aside.

5. Drain the beets and discard the pickling liquid. Place the beets in a third bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; season with salt and pepper. In a fourth bowl, toss the chilled charred broccoli with the remaining teaspoon of olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

6. Divide the beets evenly among four plates. Top with the broccoli, frisée and crumbled feta cheese. Garnish with the goat-cheese mixture and serve immediately.

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