How to Make Beet Salad with Mint Pesto and Candied Pistachios

A Colorful, Mint Pesto Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Pistachios
Courtesy Narrative Cherry Creek

Denver may have been on your map since childhood ski trips or since you first dog-eared the pages of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, but these days, it’s rising not for its powder and beatnik ways, but for its food scene.

Here, Executive Chef Paul Nagan at the new Narrative in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood transforms beets into an unforgettable dish — perfect for getting your salad fix as the temperature drops.

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“Beets are a flavor of fall. heir earthy flavor pairs nicely with the sweetness of the goat cheese and pistachio, while brightened up with mint” notes Chef Nagan. “Be on the lookout for Chioggia beets which are a pink, often striped variety, originally cultivated in Italy which adds a different color and unique presentation.”

Here’s how to make it.

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Prep time

10 mins min. min.

Cook time

1 hour min.

  • 5 oz red, gold, and Chioggia beets, peeled and sliced
  • .5 oz lemon juice
  • .5 oz olive oil
  • For 2 oz mint pesto: 2 cups chopped mint, 2 cups chopped spinach, 6 garlic cloves, 2 cups olive oil, 1 cup Parmesan, ½-cup pine nuts, salt and pepper to taste
  • For 1 oz crumbled candied pistachios: 5 cups pistachios, shelled, 1 cup sugar, ⅔-cup honey, 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 oz goat cheese
  • A handful of arugula
Prepare the lemon vinaigrette: Emulsify olive oil and lemon juice using blender.
Make mint pesto: Place everything except olive oil in a food processor. Process while slowly drizzling olive oil until emulsified.
Make candied pistachios: Place sugar and honey in saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves. Add pistachio and salt and turn heat up high. Stir two-to-three minutes until evenly coated. Pour onto parchment lined sheet tray and spread evenly and allow to cool. Then break apart.
Place mint pesto on a circle on the plate. Toss beets in lemon vinaigrette and let sit for 60 seconds to marinate. Place beets around the circle of pesto. Top with candied pistachio, crumbled goat cheese, and arugula.