Tangerine and Beet Salad

In the wintertime, I look forward to the arrival of bright, fresh tangerines because they pair so well with these sweet, roasted baby beets. It’s a simple, elegant flavor combination.–Andrew Swallow

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Simple, spare, and stunning. That’s this tangerine and beet salad recipe. Although because the sum is greater than the parts, people tend to initially sort of look at you askance. But then after tasting it, they come to appreciate what genius this combination of tastes and textures truly is. (Our unsolicited advice? Just smile and say thank you.)

Tangerine and Beet Salad

A rectangular white platter topped with tangerine and beet salad with basil garnish and a silver fork on the side.
Andrew Swallow

Prep 20 mins
Cook 40 mins
Total 1 hr
4 servings
159 kcal
5 from 1 vote
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  • 1 pound golden beets preferably baby beets
  • 4 teaspoons pine nuts
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound tangerines peeled
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice preferably from Meyer lemons
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely diced shallot
  • 2 teaspoons basil chiffonade (ideally a blend of both opal basil and regular basil)


  • Preheat the oven to 350° F (176°C).
  • Roast the beets on a baking sheet in the oven until tender. If using baby beets, this should take 20 to 30 minutes (or longer, if the beets aren’t fresh); if using regular-size beets, this could take up to an hour. Place the roasted beets on a towel and gently rub to remove their skins. Let cool to room temperature. Toast the pine nuts on a second baking sheet for 8 minutes and transfer to a plate to cool.
  • After the beets have cooled, slice off the top and bottom of each beet. If using baby beets, cut each in half. If using regular-size beets, cut into small wedges. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Slice each tangerine into thick rounds, then slice each round in half crosswise to form a sort of tangerine half moon.
  • Arrange 5 beet pieces and 5 tangerine slices on each plate. Drizzle each with 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon olive oil on top and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon shallot, 1 teaspoon of the toasted pine nuts, and 1/2 teaspoon basil. Season with salt and pepper.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 159kcal (8%)Carbohydrates: 27g (9%)Protein: 3g (6%)Fat: 6g (9%)Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 91mg (4%)Potassium: 575mg (16%)Fiber: 5g (21%)Sugar: 20g (22%)Vitamin A: 813IU (16%)Vitamin C: 37mg (45%)Calcium: 61mg (6%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

What a pretty dish! The sweet tangerine paired perfectly with the golden beets, while the basil chiffonade added color contrast. This was easy to make—a perfect winter side dish.

This was a fast and easy side dish with gorgeous colors and bright flavors. I used baby beets from a local market, and the cooking time was around 10 to 15 minutes for me because I like my beets just barely cooked through. Next time, I’d drizzle the beets with olive oil before roasting, as I think the dry roasting dried them out somewhat—although mine cooked so quickly that it wasn’t too noticeable. Everything else was perfect. I might also try some fresh chevre in the salad next time—it would shine in this recipe with the pine nuts, basil, and tangerines.

This is simple and elegant! So many variations of the beet/orange salad seem to be just a little bit off sometimes, but in this recipe, the proportions of the Meyer lemon juice and olive oil are perfect. The shallot and basil also go well with the citrus. Roasting the beets brings out their sweetness, and the pine nuts add a nice, nutty crunch. It’s such a contrast of flavors that work so well together.

I served this beautiful salad at a dinner party I hosted for friends who love beets. I first tasted the golden beet and tangerine salad as written, dressed with a little Meyer lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Though this resulted in a light and refreshing salad, I thought I could improve the dish. So, for my guests, I made a vinaigrette with Meyer lemon juice and walnut oil that I got at our local farmer’s market (you can purchase it online: www.lanogalerawalnutoil.com). I also added baby wild arugula, which gave the dish more color contrast. My guests rated it a nine out of 10. One caveat: the recipe says to roast the beets until tender, about 20 minutes. It took about an hour for my baby beets to get tender.

This is very pretty for a dinner party, or tossed together on a casual weeknight. I made this recipe three times: once to test as written, and twice to mix it up (with escarole and then bleu cheese). All three rounds yielded delicious results. I couldn’t find baby golden beets, so I just used a larger size and roasted those longer.

Golden beets and bright orange tangerines make for a beautiful salad, with a little added sparkle from the basil ribbons strewn on top. I’ll make this again, although to simplify slightly, I’ll toss the beets and tangerines gently together and make the dressing in one batch instead of adding the ingredients individually to each serving. It would make a delicious lunch if served over arugula or escarole.

This is a great example of pairing a few ingredients together to make a dish that is far greater than its individual parts. I loved the sweetness of the beets contrasting with the zing of the tangerines. The pine nuts added a great crunch. The next time I make this, I’ll roast the beets much further in advance since they took closer to 45 minutes to cook, rather than the 20 minutes suggested in the recipe. I’d also sit the shallots in the lemon juice for a few minutes before adding them to the dish to remove some of the raw onion taste. I couldn’t quite taste the basil, so I’d consider leaving it out next time since it’s out of season in the winter.

All too often, hearty fruit and vegetable salads really aren’t more than the sum of their parts. The components don’t complement each other, and I end up wishing I had just roasted some vegetables and eaten fruit for dessert. But this lovely winter salad was an exception. First off, it was beautiful. The technicolor tangerine and the patterned beets were appealing on their own. Offset by the basil chiffonade, they were gorgeous. The crunch of the pine nuts and the zing of the shallots also contributed to the total experience. But the real flavor revelation for me was the tangerine paired with the basil. I’ll make this salad throughout the winter.

Originally published January 31, 2011


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  1. 5 stars
    I used this beautiful recipe for inspiration. Outside we are encased in ICE so I am going to use what I have without going to the store which is as follows:

    well drained pickled beets (my own)
    roasted and salted pepitas
    fresh ground black pepper
    Meyer lemon juice and olive oil
    thinly sliced green onion using white and green parts

    I think it will be a close second to the original.

    1. That sounds like a colourful combination, Penny. The clementines being mainly seedless will save you some work. Let us know about your results!

      1. Not bad at all and you are correct it is a very colorful salad. The beets were a tiny bit strong in flavor over the clementines. The addition of a drizzle of honey helped balance the salad. I like the red beets over the golden regardless.

        1. Thanks, Penny, that’s a lovely solution. I find that golden beets vary dramatically in sweetness depending on how old they are—meaning not just whether they’re baby or quite big, but how long they’ve been languishing at the grocery store. Hopefully next time you’ll have a sweeter bunch. And you could of course do this with red beets, although they tend to have a slightly earthier cast and will dribble some of their vibrant hue over the plate…

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