Two Ways to Do Beets Appetizer-style

Beets are presented two ways in a mother-daughter cookoff with Anastasia and Helen Koutalianos, authors of From the Olive Grove: Mediterranean Cooking with Olive Oil

Credit: Anastasia Koutalianos

Helen and Anastasia Koutalianos put their culinary talents to the test with beet appetizers

A Vancouver mother and daughter offer their respective recipes for creating a scrumptious appetizer with beets

My food philosophy is pretty simple: buy fresh, use what’s in season, and eat what you enjoy.

My mother’s take isn’t much different. She’s a fantastic cook. She can cook anything and everything under the sun. And salt it well (to me, the true sign of a real master!) I grew up on her Greek cooking.

But when it comes to our culinary styles—we have our own stamp. My mom is a traditionalist. She loves everything Mediterranean and using fresh herbs and vegetables. (My parents’ garden is a sight for sore eyes.)

Me too, but I also like experimenting with new tastes and flavours, and love working with texture, and various cutting techniques; a lot of what ifs and maybe this could work. Still, there’s nothing like mama’s cooking.

So we’ve decided to put our cooking approaches to the test. We picked an ingredient and a course and kept clear of the internet (no help). We used our culinary skills, creativity, and whatever we had in the fridge. It’s our take on Iron Chef, only this time it’s mama vs. daughter.

Recipe 1: Beets and Garlic Bread by Anastasia Koutalianos

If you like beets and garlic, you’re in for a treat.


  • 2 pounds of beets* (approx. 10 beets), washed and cut into bite-sized wedges
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ white vinegar
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1-1½ tsp sea salt
  • 100-200g goat feta cheese (optional)
  • 100-200g blue cheese (optional)

Garlic Bread:

  • 1 baguette
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, mashed


  1. Remove greens from the beet root, if applicable. (Steam greens, add the juice of half a lemon or 1 tbsp of white vinegar, toss with olive oil and sea salt and serve as a side.) Note: I don’t peel my beets but you can clean them with a vegetable peeler if you’d like before boiling them. Also, you can boil the beets whole; however, cooking them as wedges will significantly cut down on the cooking time.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 1 tsp salt to the pot.
  3. Wash the beets and cut and discard the root ends. Cut into bit-size wedges.
  4. Add beets to boiling water and cover. Cook for 30 minutes, or until tender. (Test your beets by piercing them with a fork to see if they are tender.)
  5. When done, remove from heat and drain.
  6. In a large bowl, add the cooked beets, olive oil, white vinegar, garlic and sea salt. Toss well. Serve in a bowl with feta and blue cheese on top or on the side, along with garlic bread.
  7. To prepare the garlic bread, slice a baguette in two lengthwise. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Rub with fresh garlic. Place on a baking sheet and put it under the broiler until golden brown (about 2-5 minutes).

Serve appetizer warm or cold.
Makes 4-6 servings.

Recipe 2: Salamina Beet Salad by Helen Koutalianos

This is excellent as an accompaniment to a roast with oven-roasted potatoes, or as a refreshing salad for lunch served with garlic toast. This dish has it all: sweet and sour, and creamy with crunch!


  • 6 medium organic beets (assorted colours for contrast, if available), washed
  • ¼ cup olive oil*
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 3 Granny Smith organic apples, finely grated
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 750ml of plain yogurt (at least 10% fat)** 
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped

* Use quality olive oil for this dish. I used Golden Olive Eleni certified organic extra virgin olive oil.
** Mediterranée yogurt or Krema are good picks.


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the beets on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool. When cool to the touch, peel the skin off the beets and discard.
  2. Cut the beets into bite-sized wedges. In a single-serving shallow bowl, arrange one layer of the beets. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Put aside.
  3. In another bowl, grate the apples and add the lemon juice. Toss well.
  4. Cover the layer of beets with a layer of grated apple.
  5. Top the apple with a layer of creamy Mediterranean-style yogurt.
  6. Finally, add a generous sprinkle of the chopped nuts of your choice and serve.

This salad can be made a few hours before serving.
Makes 4 servings.

Helen Koutalianos is the President and owner of Basil Olive Oil Products. Along with her husband Basil, she imports quality food products from Greece, including their award-winning Golden Olive Eleni® certified organic extra virgin olive oil. She is a director for the Fraser Valley Organic Producers Association, and co-author of the cookbook From the Olive Grove: Mediterranean Cooking with Olive Oil. Helen is also a former Greek cooking instructor and food columnist for the Maple Ridge Times.

Anastasia is the director and founder of NADATODO.COM: an online event calendar and promotions/publicity hub. She also reviews theatre and live performance; her write-ups are featured on various blogs and websites, including and Anastasia hosts her own A&E review/music/talk radio show, @nadatodo, every other Sunday from 5-6PM on CJSF 90.1FM. Along with her mother, she co-wrote the cookbook From the Olive Grove: Mediterranean Cooking with Olive Oil. blog | twitter