Seasonal recipe: Kevin Gillespie’s pickled beet and charred broccoli salad

Using beets from your CSA box. (AJC file photo)

Using beets from your CSA box. (AJC file photo)

I recently wrote a story introducing CSA programs for those who are unfamiliar with them. Participants in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program own a portion of a farmer’s garden. They pay to support the farm throughout the growing season through memberships or subscriptions and receive a weekly share of the farm’s bounty in return.

Rise ‘N Shine Organic Farm provided us with a list of what a typical CSA box might include this time of year as we transition from spring to summer crops:

  • 1 Pint of Strawberries
  • 2 lbs of Beets
  • 2 lbs of Squash and Zucchini
  • 1 lb of Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Cilantro
  • Pink Beauty Radishes
  • 1.5 lbs of Slicer Tomatoes

Chef Kevin Gillespie shared a recipe for a One-Pot Hog Supper to use the cabbage, onions and tomatoes from the vegetable share.

To use the beets, he also shared the recipe for Pickled Beet and Charred Broccoli Salad from his new cookbook, “Fire in My Belly” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $40). The recipe comes from the chapter called “Foods you thought you hated.” So, if you have never been a fan of beets or broccoli, try them this way.

Pickled Beet and Charred Broccoli Salad

by Kevin Gillespie


  • 4 baseball-size beets, about 2 pounds
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup pickling spice
  • 4-inch cinnamon stick, broken into a few pieces
  • 1 pod star anise
  • 1 fist-size crown broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1/4 cup (or about 2 oz.) fresh goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp water
  • about 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup frisée, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 grinds fresh black pepper (turns on a pepper mill)
  • 1/4 cup (or about 2 oz.) feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/8 tsp pumpkin seed oil
  1. Peel the beets, slice off the tops and roots, and cut the beets into 1-inch wedges. In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine the red wine vinegar, sugar, pickling spice, cinnamon, and star anise. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Pull the pan from the heat and let the spices steep for about 10 minutes. Strain and reserve the liquid, discarding the spices. Return the liquid to the pot, add the beets, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cut the heat down so the liquid simmers, and cook for about 10 minutes. Pull the pan from the heat and let the beets cool in the liquid; they will finish cooking as they cool.
  2. Heat a medium cast-iron skillet over high heat until smokin’ hot. Drop half of the broccoli florets into the dry skillet, being careful not to crowd the pan. After about 30 seconds, toss the florets, and continue tossing as they char and cook, about 2 1/2 minutes total. The tender florets will char easily, which is good; you want that smoky flavor. Transfer the first batch to a plate and repeat with the remaining broccoli. Refrigerate the charred broccoli until ready to serve.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the goat cheese, lemon juice, water and a large pinch of salt until smooth. In a separate bowl, toss the frisée with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Drain the beets and discard the pickling liquid. Place the beets in a third bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 3 grinds of black pepper. In a fourth bowl, toss the chilled charred broccoli with the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2 grinds black pepper. Yes, I realize you’ve got four separate bowls; it’s imperative that the components stay separate until they are plated. You don’t want the ingredients to mingle because each item brings a specific flavor, texture, and color to the final dish.
  4. Divide the beets evenly among the four plates. Top with the broccoli, the frisée, and the crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle on the goat cheese mixture, and finish with a few drops of pumpkin seed oil around the outside of the plate.

Prep Tip: Look for pickling spice in the spice aisle of your grocery store. It usually includes bay leaves, dill seeds, mustard seeds, peppercorns, whole allspice and whole cloves.

–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog

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