Nothing else in the spectrum of the vegetable kingdom can touch the deep magenta of beets. From midsummer through the fall in the Lowcountry, freshly dug beets are a colorful addition to a plate of summer greens and yellows. Choose beets that are small and firm. Trim the stems about 2 inches above the bulbous root and leave the pointed root intact. Boil or bake them whole and unpeeled so that they retain their color. When tender, cool them under running water and drain. Top the roots and pare them. If small, serve whole; if large, slice the beets before dressing them. The following sauce is a pickle that enhances the beets’ intense flavor, whether served hot or cold.


  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked and peeled beets (sliced if large)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (if served hot)


Boil all of the ingredients except the beets and the butter for 5 minutes. If you’re serving the beets cold, pour the pickle over them and let them sit, covered, in the refrigerator overnight. If you’re serving them hot, continue to reduce the vinegar mixture, then whisk in the butter to make a sauce of the desired consistency. Pour over the beets and serve at once.