Beetroot, Onion and Dill Pickle Salad

Am I alone in preferring boiled to roasted beetroots?

Ready for the fridge!

Every time I have tried the fashionable roast veg treatment on beetroots it has taken longer to cook them, been harder to peel them, and made very little difference to the taste that I can notice, and given a harder textured, denser end result.   I love red peppers, courgettes, sweet potatoes and garlic roasted with a sprig or two of rosemary and a scatter of sea salt and so on, sweet, sticky and delicious, but beetroot?

I like beetroots boiled, old fashioned as it sounds, they come out easy to peel, moist and shiny and make beautiful beetroot and onion salad.

  • 700 grams or so of fresh beetroot
  • 1 or two large Spanish onions (depends how much you like onion and how big your onions are)
  • Bunch of fresh dill (frozen will do if you haven’t got fresh dill)
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • White Pepper (Black if you haven’t got white is fine)
  • Vinegar of your choice – Red or White wine vinegar is good, or Rice vinegar or a mixture with a little Balsamic thrown in to the mix.
  • Water

Meant to use this picture before

Trim the leaves off the beetroot leaving an inch of so of shoots, leave the roots on the beetroots and boil them whole, resisting the urge to scrub or cut off any little hairy bits, they just bleed more whilst cooking.

Cover in lots of cold water and bring to boil and continue to boil until they are soft. Anything from 40 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on size and age of beetroots.

Peel the beetroots while still hot, the skins will come away easily.

Slice onions into thin rounds. Slice beetroots similarly into rounds. Dilute your chosen vinegar with water. Maybe 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 water, I do it slightly differently each time.

Layer your beetroots and onions in a dish, sprinkling with salt, sugar and white pepper between each layer and if you like dill, put fresh finely chopped dill in with each layer. Then pour the vinegar mixture over the whole lot, it doesn’t have to cover completely as you will turn the salad the following day and there will be more liquid which has come out of the vegetables by then.

Cling film the top of the bowl and put it in the fridge. Turn once a day for about three to four days. Once the onions have turned a good beetroot red colour and began to soften/pickle you can eat it any time after that. Test for readiness by nibbling on a piece of onion!

I haven’t given quantities as people’s tastes vary so much.  For a saltier pickle use 1 tbsp of sugar to 1 tbsp salt, and 1/2 tsp of pepper, for a sweeter pickle increase the sugar to 2 tbsp to 1 tbps of salt.   This should keep for at least 10 days or so in the fridge, if you want to make a pickle that keeps for longer then you will need to use sterile jars and a different method.

Serve with anything you fancy, and watch the glorious pinks bleed across your plate causing chaos.

With yoghurt, lime and a twist of black pepper


Just came across a much simpler salad treatment from the Riverford Veg Blog. This is where these beetroots originated from (as small seedlings in a planting out box that we got in the Spring). Guy boils his beetroots too, so I am not alone ! But thanks for reading this post anyway.

8 thoughts on “Beetroot, Onion and Dill Pickle Salad

  1. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Thanks for this recipe, Joanna! I’ve not cooked a lot of beetroot, and we’ve tended to roast them, simply because that was how we were taught. I do love the idea of pickling them with onions, so when (if) our beetroots grow, we’ll definitely give this a go!

  2. planejaner

    looks delicious! We planted beets, but alas, they never…beeted.

  3. heidiannie

    I boil mine, too.
    My daughter in law roast hers with other roots and says I’m boiling out the goodness.
    I say, “My goodness, they taste much better and aren’t crunchy or grainy this way!”
    I think you boil IN the goodness.

  4. Suelle

    I agree with you. With the exception of potatoes and parsnips, I prefer most starchy root vegetables boiled rather than roasted – roast carrots in particular can be dire!

  5. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    So glad to hear I am not alone, thanks :) @ Suelle I’m with you on the carrots! I love the idea of boiling IN the goodness Heidiannie @ planejaner I think these were the first ones that ever came to anything maybe it’s the variety? @ Steve do you think beetroot flavoured dog biscuits would be good for pink loving dogs? @ Celia have you planted lots? I’m definitely growing a few more next year.

    You’re all up earlier than me! Well, I know most of you are not in the same time zone. I wrote this post earlier in the week and when I got round to reading the Grauniad last night saw this interesting beetroot treatment by Ottolengi so might have to try that one too. Though I don’t quite see why peel them raw and slice and then boil, maybe to get each slice semi cooked? Sounds like a lot of beetroot blood everywhere? And I do like mandolin sliced raw beetroot slivers mixed in a salad too!

  6. sandra thomas

    I had a pickled beetroot recipe that I have lost (since moving) just like yours except it had dill seeds in it rather than leaves and was DELICIOUS – was looking for it when I came across your blog. I can remember it had save some of the boiling water to dilute the vinegar but otherwise I think it was just the same. Thanks for reminding me.

    Nice site


    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hi Sandra, thanks for dropping by :) I am sure dill seeds would be lovely in this too. I must try that next time!
      My version isn’t something from a cook book, just something that got made all the time when I was a kid, never quite the same twice as far as I remember…

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