poached beets with rose, spices & cacao nibs

Vermont chocolatier Dar Tavernier Singer chooses beets at her local Farmers Market

A delicious addition to a mixed green salad, or as a salad or side dish on its own, poached beets add an earthy, sweet flavor and beautiful punch of color to a meal. Add aromatic spices and the savory depth of cacao nibs as you are cooking them and you have a simple, flavorful component that adds interest to a variety of dishes.

Bonus: conserve the cooking liquid to make a fantastic salad dressing or sauce for meat and veggies.

Let’s begin!

Two red beets, one peeled


  • two large beets, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices, then quartered
  • one batch of our Rouge Rub spice blend:
    • 1 tsp pink peppercorn
    • 1 Tbsp rose petals (make sure they are organic culinary grade and grown without pesticides, etc.) don’t have rose petals? substitute hibiscus tea or black tea
    • 1 tsp sumac don’t have sumac? substitute lemon juice!
    • 1 Tbsp cacao nibs don’t have cacao nibs? substitute 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder!
    • 1/2 tsp cayenne or chili peppers
    • 1 tsp pink himalayan or coarse grain sea salt
    • In a coffee/spice mill or large mortar and pestle combine the spices and salt until a fine powder
  • 1 Tbsp honey or substitute maple syrup or raw organic sugar
Overhead shot of sliced beets cooking in a pan


Place the sliced beets in a single layer in a large, heavy sauce pan and add just enough water to cover. Stir in the ground spice blend and mix until beets are evenly covered, and arrange the slices once again so they are a single layer.

Simmer on med-high heat, occasionally turning the slices and adding just enough water so the slices stay just covered until the beets are tender.

Bright pink liquid from beets being poached

Remove the beets slices and set aside so they can cool. Reserve the liquid for salad dressing or sauces.

Pretty Pink Salad Dressing

Bowl filled with beet and goat cheese salad

Combine 1/4 cup of the reserved beet cooking liquid with 3 Tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake until ingredients are well combined, then taste and add more salt and honey as needed.

Toss mixed greens and poached beets with the pink salad dressing and almonds, chèvre, topped with herbed croutons. Or try a poached beet salad with pickled red onion, feta and pistachios.

A salad also makes a beautiful bed for the main star of your dish, like a filet of fish, tofu cutlet or chicken breast.

Plated fish with a salad of beets, carrots, and cheese

Sauce ideas for meats and veggies

Whisk together 3 Tbsp balsamic, 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp honey, maple syrup or raw cane sugar to the reserved beet cooking liquid and use it as a marinade for meats, tofu, carrots, eggplant or sweet potatoes before roasting or grilling.

Add 1/4 cup sour cream to the marinade above and heat on low, or 1-2 Tbsp corn starch or arrowroot powder and whisk over low heat, for a rich, creamy sauce with a bit of zing and amazing pink color, delicious on lamb, chicken or tofu.