Arugula Apple-Beet Candied Pecan Salad

I kind of hate beets.  I really want to like them but the torment in our relationship is like that with a person whose virtues you regard, one you truly want to like yet somehow each time you meet they completely rub you the wrong way.  I would gladly wear beets for their array of chromatic drama but I’m still working on trying to like eating them.  I’m determined however.

With this as a backdrop those who know me will doubt I really had this recipe pop into my head without a gun pointed at it, but it is so.  I think it is another post holiday cry for help, my cravings for not only a salad but one comprised of serious players; arugula, beets, apple cider vinegar (all known for fantastic healthful properties).

As feverishly as I am trying to love beets, I already DO love arugula. I was speaking with a close friend recently about food and asked ‘if you were shipwrecked on a desert island, and could only take one food with you, what would it be?’  (Of course you’d have to have the foresight you were going to become shipwrecked for this to work but that’s beside the point).  Being a thoughtful chap he chose ‘salt’.  Feeling it could be used to season things as well as preserve things.  Not nearly so practical, I declared my pick would absolutely be ‘arugula’.  I-heart-arugula.  I find the peppery flavor and delicate texture sublime.  It is definitely my green of choice.

After a month of chocolate dipped everything I was not surprised to turn the corner at New Year’s finding my palate had taken the reins and done the same.  Amidst the more hearty foods of the winter the idea of this peppery green combined with vinegary beets, some crunchiness and a bit of sweetness from the apple and coated nuts could not be any more to the point.  AND I’ve finally met a beet I’ll happily eat anytime!

My main source of local greens in winter is from Jay Hill Farm.    They have a fantastic system.  One accesses their website where they list daily what is available.  One emails an order to Rowan, the farmer, who in turn confirms via email.  The order is available after 11 a.m. the following day (after noon on Sundays), to be picked up in an outside refrigerator on the farm.  Payment is left there.  It is an honor system and one that sadly was broken last year.  Should you shop with them you’ll find a sign on the fridge unequivocally reminding anyone with ill intent that Rowan has a gun and she’s not afraid to use it.  I’d imagine if one is going out of their way to shop organic with a farm directly their scruples are intact however for anyone inclined otherwise, think twice.


These beets should be prepared the night before desiring to use to allow the full affect of the vinegar and apple juice to take hold.  They are slightly vinegary and also sweet from the apple juice.  A reminder about working with beets, things can quickly digress to look like a murder scene with permanent reminders in clothing.  I highly recommend wearing latex gloves, using a plastic cutting board and not wearing your favorite outfit (or at least cover it with an apron).

Yield:  this amount is intended for one large personal salad or two side salads


·         1 heaping 1/3 cup of peeled, grated beets

·         ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

·         2 tablespoons apple juice (I use organic, unfiltered juice)

Combine all ingredients in a glass container with lid and allow to soak overnight.

These take about 45 minutes to make and 15 minutes to cool.  They can be made up to 4 days beforehand.  Once you make them I think you’ll find many uses and thoughts on how to tweak the seasonings for your creations.
Adapted from Epicurious
·         1 cup halved pecans (not pieces)
·         1 egg white
·         ¼ cup sugar
·         ½ teaspoon cinnamon
·         ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
·         ¼ teaspoon chile powder (preferably Ancho)
·         1/8 teaspoon salt
1.      Heat oven to 300 degrees F.
2.      In a small bowl, whisk egg white until frothy.  Add sugar and spices and whisk again.
3.      Place pecan halves in the bowl and stir to cover all pecans.
4.      Remove coated pecans with a small slotted spoon or fork to allow excess coating liquid to drip back into the pan and place on a cookie sheet with a silpat (or a non-stick cookie sheet, or one sprayed with non-stick coating)
5.      Place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the nuts are golden brown, softer to the bite but not overdone (I suggesting tasting one at 25 minutes to judge).  Remove and cool to room temperature.


Serves:  I large personal salad or 2 side salads

·         2 ½ cups Arugula, rinsed and roughly torn

·         1 recipe Apple Cider Vinegar Pickled Beets (recipe above)

·         1 small red onion, sliced

·         ½ Granny Smith apple, grated

·         Apple Cider Beet vinegarette (see below)

1.       Place arugula on serving plate.

2.      Remove beets from the vinegar mixture with a slotted spoon, allowing liquid to drain and place on the arugula.  Reserve the vinegar mixture.

3.      Layer apple and onion on the beets and top with a handful of the candied pecans.

4.      Dress lightly with Apple Cider Beet vinaigrette, salt and pepper as desired and enjoy.


Most vinaigrette recipes suggest 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 oil.  I personally prefer much more vinegar.  In this case the vinegar is diluted with the apple juice so not as tart.  I suggest making it as follows then tweaking it to your taste if you’d enjoy more vinegar or more oil.  This will make far more than you need for this salad but will stay fresh if kept in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.  If the oil solidifies after chilling just leave it out before using or set the jar in some warm water to hasten the process.


·         Remainder of Apple Cider vinegar pickling liquid  (I had a bit over ¼ cup left)

·         Equal amount of quality Olive Oil

·         Salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a sealable jar, shake and dress salad


  1. says

    I feel the very same with beets. I have had them only once, at one of my German friends house, where I could say that I really enjoyed them. My friend Sabine served them as an appetizer topped with balsamic reduction. Well, who wouldn't like anything with a balsamic reduction, right?
    I like how the purple napkin complements the color of the beets. Very pretty pictures Toni.
    One day we will move to Boulder. I know it. Wish the drive right now wouldn't be an hour to get there. Otherwise I also would shop at the Jay Hill Farm. You are very lucky.

  2. says

    I applaud you for continuing to give beets a chance. Funny how we do that on purpose as adults but fight it tooth and nail as kids. I'm doing it to myself with lima beans (shudder).

    That being said, your salad is amazing. Every part of it. I adore pickled beets. I'm ok with arugula but can't say I'd choose to bring it with me to a deserted island (I might have to pick ice).

  3. says

    I really don't like beets unless they're roasted, but they do sound very palatable on your salad, I'll have to give them a try that way, maybe my girls would even eat them!
    Hope your New Year is going well!

  4. says

    Looks great and I'm glad you found a beet you like. I do heart beets but they're best when I've roasted them and then either lightly pickled them or tossed them in a vinegary dressing. And I always include candied walnuts in my salads! Yum :)

  5. The Cozy Herbivore says

    I also hate beets. And love arugula! This salad is so gorgeous– love the colors. Although beets and I aren't speaking to each other, I might be tempted to try this recipe… looks beautiful! Can't wait to see your entry for the recipe swap!

  6. says

    What a colorful healthy salad!! Beets can rub me the wrong way too… I do like them roasted, they are somehow “less beety” that way. I would love to give this a whirl… it looks spectacular!! And I appreciate how your napkin is color coordinated to your salad. I like to it when the linens can highlight the food whenever possible!

  7. says

    My friend Greg and I pickled 50 pounds of beets this fall … love them. I'm also a fan of roasted beets in salads. I'm always surprised of how many people don't like them. Beautiful photos Tony and this salad looks wonderful. Isn't arugula just the best?

  8. says

    Jay: Thank you; I'm determined to improve my relationship with beets! The spice containers were my Grandmother's. I love them too; thank you.

    Kiri: Do try the nuts. They are great in the salad.

    Kirsten: Beets are a challenge but I know they are so good nutritionally. May need to try the balsamic reduction (agree all tastes great with that!). Thanks for the compliment on the photos too!

    Mom Chef: You can do it (Lima Beans)!

    Chef Dennis: Do try this soaking on the grated beets. I think the apple juice shifts the flavor to something more palatable. Use a good unfiltered, preferably organic apple juice.

    Anita: Thanks for the idea and encouragement!

    Cozy Herbivore: Do try these. I had hoped my idea of soaking might 'get me there' and I was very happy! 'See you' tomorrow!

    Lisa (Tarte du Jour): Thanks for the encouragment and ideas! xo

    Lea Ann: A friend of mine, who also shares the torment over beets, once said they taste 'dirty'. I think for me the sweetness is too dense; overwhelming. I'll keep trying!

  9. says

    I am new to this blog and also a Colorado Blogger. I am attempting to make sure the retreat and education center that I cook at is mostly locavore. I will definately try this recipe.

  10. says

    Beets, yum! Gotta say I'm a fan from way back when my grandmother served me beets out of a can (imagine my happy surprise when I finally tasted a fresh one). I will give this a try…the market where I get local produce has tons of beets. Haven't seen the arugula (which I also adore), but maybe it'll be there next week.

  11. says

    Connie: Welcome! I'm so glad you found my blog and I hope you'll keep reading! It's tricky at this time of year to eat locavore in Colorado unless you have stores of food or a great connection in a farmer as I've found. Where there is a will there is a way however. Good luck!

    Rebecca: Thanks!

    Susan: It's funny how separated people are on beets; love em or hate em it seems. I hope you'll find arugula soon and give this a whirl.

  12. says

    This is such a beautiful salad! I love beats, arugula, pecans, vinegar…everything on it! Salt was a smart choice for a deserted island, but I probably would have chosen something impractical, too!


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