Pickled Beet Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
A colorful beet salad drizzled with citrus vinaigrette that you can enjoy all year long! This flavorful salad is loaded with tender greens, goat cheese, crisp green apples, thinly sliced red onions, dried cranberries, and honey roasted almonds. I love using pickled beets on my salad but you could use roasted beets too!
This has to be the most colorful beet salads you’ve ever had! To say this is flavorful is truly an understatement. It’s a symphony of flavors that dance across your tongue. Starting with slightly tart green apples, sweet dried cranberries, punchy red onions, and honey roasted almonds. The salad is drizzled in a fresh ginger and citrus vinaigrette so it really delivers on those slightly spicy notes and the freshly squeeze orange and maple syrup sweeten the whole thing. Pickled beets cut through some of the sweetness so it’s nicely balanced.
But hold the phone – we’ve got the texture in this recipe too. Red onions give it a little bite, there’s crunch from the almonds (or use walnuts or pecans, whatever you like!) green apples are juicy and crisp. The shredded chicken turns this otherwise side dish into a lunch or dinner salad with a boost in the protein department.
This is a lunch or dinner salad that you’ll want to make on repeat in the summertime well into winter!
Ingredients for a pickled beet salad with citrus vinaigrette:
- Mixed Greens: I use a box of mixed greens for this recipe, but feel free to use an Italian mix, or a combination of romaine, baby spinach and arugula. The greens are totally your call!
- Pickled beets: I like to use a jar of pickled beets for this recipe, however, you can also roast beet in aluminum foil or boil them and use those if you’d like.
- Shredded Chicken: Lately I’ve gotten into buying bone in chicken breasts and then roasting them in the oven for the week to make prepping salads like this one easier during the week. I season the chicken breasts for 1 hour with a big pinch of salt. Then, pat them dry, drizzle with avocado oil, season with a bit more salt and tuck a few garlic cloves around the chicken beasts to add aroma. Roast them at 475ºF for roughly 18-25 minutes. You’ll want to stop it around the 15 minute mark and season with a bit of garlic powder and a generous shake of salt-free lemon pepper seasoning. I kid you not, it makes the BEST chicken! Just shred it up and save it in a container to use on your salads throughout the week.
- Green Apple: Use a big crispy apple for this one! In this particular recipe, I don’t suggest swapping the green apple for a sweeter variety. Simple put, the tart flavor works best with the ingredients in the vinaigrette.
- Goat Cheese: Adds the slightest hint of tang to the salad. If you aren’t a fan of goat cheese, you can swap it for feta cheese if you’d like. And speaking of feta, definitely give this salad a try if you’re a feta freak like me.
- Red Onion: I like to thinly slice the red onion on a mandolin (watch those fingers!) and then add it to a bowl with a some cold water and a few ice cubes. Doing this for even a few minutes help reduce some of that harsh bite that sometimes a particularly feisty onion has!
- Almonds: I love using honey roasted almonds for this recipe, however, roasted pecans or chopped walnuts work equally well. Use whatever you have on hand!
- Olive Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil is my personal choice when you’re making a recipe that doesn’t require you to heat the olive oil. I was lucky enough to get a bottle of orange infused olive oil from our trip to San Fran years ago and if I had some of that on hand, that would undoubtedly make this dressing even better!
- An Orange: You’ll need both the zest and the juice of an orange for the vinaigrette. You can remove the peel of the orange by using a microplane to zest the orange right into the other vinaigrette ingredients.
- White wine vinegar: I like the low acidic taste of this vinegar in the dressing. I would suggest steering clear of distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar for this recipe. The next best sub would be rice vinegar if you don’t have white wine vinegar on hand.
- Dijon Mustard: This adds both flavor and is an emulsifying agent for the dressing – meaning that the dressing won’t separate easily.
- Grated Ginger: Full disclosure, I usually use a squeeze of grated ginger for this recipe. Though freshly grated ginger will yield slightly better results, I usually use the stuff in a bottle for this particular recipe!
- Maple Syrup: Is the sweetener in the vinaigrette. You can use 1-2 tablespoons depending on how sweet the orange juice you use is. I usually like the dressing with just a little more than 1 tablespoon!
How to make this beet salad recipe:
- Let’s talk beets. I almost always have a jar of pickled beets in the pantry for making a quick salad. If beets are in season when you’re making this, you can easily bake them in foil on a baking sheet until they’re fork tender. Let them cool to room temperature, slice, and use them the same way you would pickled beets. I love the flavor of the pickled jarred beets add so those are always my first choice for this recipe.
- Make the dressing. Combine the orangezest, orange juice, olive oil, dijon, maple syrup, grated ginger, kosher salt and black pepper in a jar. Place a lid on top and simply shake the jar until the dressing emulsifies. The teaspoon dijon mustard we added aid in emulsifying the dressing. You can also combine everything in a bowl and stream in the oil while you whisk the dressing.
- Assemble. Slice the pickled beets if they aren’t already sliced. Add the greens to a large bowl, top with beets, shredded chicken, green apples, and shaved red onions. Add half of the dressing and mix to combine. Then taste and adjust with more dressing to your taste.
- Serve it up. Sprinkle with dried cranberries, roasted almonds, and goat cheese and serve in individual dishes or family style!
FAQs about this recipe:
Yes, cooked flaked salmon will also work here.
I can see a balsamic vinaigrette also working for this recipe if you’d prefer that instead.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Lemon Basil Arugula Pasta Salad
- Autumn Crisp Apple Sweet Potato Salad
- Chicken BBQ Ranch Salad
- Quick Summer Tuna Pasta Salad
- Asian Sesame Chicken Salad
- 5 ounces mixed greens
- ½ (16-ounce) jar pickled beets, drained and sliced (or more if you’d like)
- 12 ounces cooked chicken breast, shredded
- 1 large green apple, thinly sliced
- ½ cup shaved red onions
- 3 tablespoons cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup honey roasted almonds
- ⅓ cup crumbled goat cheese
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt and cracked pepper
- DRESSING: In a jar, add the ingredients for the dressing (1 tablespoon of maple syrup first), place a cap on top and shake until combined. If the dressing separates at any point, re-shake the jar until mixed. Taste and adjust with more maple syrup, salt or pepper as desired.
- SALAD: Slice the pickled beets or dice them into small pieces. Add the mixed greens, pickled beets, shredded chicken, green apples, and shaved red onions to a bowl. Toss lightly with the dressing. Taste and adjust with more dressing as desired.
- SERVE: Right before serving, top with goat cheese, cranberries, and roasted almonds. Serve immediately.