Passover Beet Horseradish

by Rachel on March 28, 2010

Passover Beet Horseradish

This dish comes from the family archive of my friend Judy.  In her home it is served with gefilte fish on Passover.  I’ve never been a huge fan of gefilte fish, in fact in our house we make a lightly pickled salmon dish instead.  Judy assures me that one could serve this beet dish as a side with a white fish, or gefilte fish, or even salmon.  During Judy’s Seder they put the Beet Horseradish on matzo when one is meant to taste the bitterness of slavery.  Though I’m certain that Judy’s Jewish ancestors did not have access to yellow beets, I do – and I thought that the color combination of one batch made with a purple beet and one batch made with a yellow beet would be spectacular – and it was.  Fair warning before you set out to make this – it is a huge challenge to deal with fresh horseradish.  When cut or grated it produces a gas far more overpowering than that produced by onions.  I have to work with all of the windows open and I repeatedly mutter under my breath – “what on earth was I thinking??”  I swear off horseradish for a year or two, and then Passover comes around again and I think – “it really wasn’t that bad, was it?”  Or maybe it’s about suffering the bitterness of slavery both when making the dish and when eating it.  Either way, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Quite a color combination

Passover Beet Horseradish

  • 1 large beet, scrubbed
  • ¼ pound fresh horseradish (about 4 inches)
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Bitter but beautiful

Place the beet in a medium pot, cover it with water and bring to a boil.  Once it reaches a boil turn it down to a simmer and cook until the beet is easily pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Cool, peel, and then coarsely grate into a large bowl.  Pause. Open every window possible.  Take a deep breath of clear air.  Ready yourself, and peel the Horseradish.  You can either grate the horseradish using a fine grater or food processor.  I prefer the food processor because it keeps some of the killer gas trapped inside the food processor rather than out in the room with me.  In a small bowl stir together the horseradish, vinegar, sugar and salt, and then pour this liquid/horseradish combination over the beets and mix well.  Makes about 2 cups.  Can be made a day ahead.

One more for good measure

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann March 28, 2010 at 7:11 pm

God! such a lovely picture and looks so vibrant and healthy.

Rachel March 28, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Thanks Ann – isn’t it a fabulous color? I just love it.

S.L. Kaufman March 28, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Rachel – I despise beets in every incarnation and have done since I was an infant (when at first taste I spat them back in my Mother’s face…). However, the shear beauty of this dish has me reconsidering my standpoint…

Rachel March 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Lynn: I will allow you to continue to hate beets while at the same time appreciating the glorious beauty of this dish. You could consider making it just as an addition to your home decor. You don’t actually need to EAT it. I won’t tell.

S.L. Kaufman March 28, 2010 at 10:35 pm

thanks, Rachel! we’re hosting second night – maybe *everyone* will be in for a treat…? ;>

Linn @ Swedish home cooking March 30, 2010 at 1:59 am

I’ve never celebrated passover (guess because I’m not Jewish) but I’m very curious about all the great food that’s served. Pretty pictures!

lisa March 30, 2010 at 9:59 am

Lovely Blog you have here and love this Beets and Horseradish sidedish.
I can imagine the flavors all together sweet cooling and with a touch heat…great with fish…thank you! Happy Passover to you and your family.

Linda March 30, 2010 at 11:46 am

Nice recipe! I keep my horseradish in the freezer and grate it while it’s still frozen. There’s really no smell.

Cooking Rookie March 30, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Beautiful pictures!

Tamar March 30, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I wonder how this recipe would work with authentic wasabi root?

sippitysup March 30, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Wow I love this. Now deciding which color goes best with my outfit! GREG

Chou March 30, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Wow, what beautiful colors! I’ll have to try this, I think my husband would be thrilled.

Rachel March 30, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Sippitysup: I designed this recipe with your wardrobe in mind. I’m thinkin’ it’s the red – don’t you think?

Rachel March 30, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Tamar: I bet it would knock your socks right off, literally! Try it and let me know.

Rachel March 30, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Chou: If you try it – let me know if your husband actually does like it!!

Christian March 30, 2010 at 9:05 pm

I like the salmon substitution for the gefilte fish. Gefilte fish…*shudder* I love my wife, but that’s one cultural divide we’ll never bridge. ;)

S.L. Kaufman March 31, 2010 at 8:10 pm

well, even though I didn’t have the moxie to actually make the recipe, one of our guests for second night actually brought a batch (red!) and may I say how *lovely* it looked on the table – like a jewel! thanks for sharing!

Cara April 5, 2010 at 8:50 am

I’ve never made my own horseradish. I bet it’s delicious! Maybe I will try it next year. Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

Bruno April 6, 2011 at 7:51 am

Looks great! Cant wait to cook the all Passover Menu for my clients :)

Bruno April 6, 2011 at 7:54 am

I am looking forward to cook the all Passover Menu for my clients !

Bruno April 6, 2011 at 7:54 am

Looks great!

Bruno April 6, 2011 at 7:56 am


Rachel April 6, 2011 at 8:04 am

Bruno: Thanks for all the kind words. Good luck with your Passover menu!!

alissa April 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm

This looks wonderful! I will have to try this for sure and your photography is terrific!

Rachel April 6, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Thanks Alissa!! These beets were so beautiful it was hard to go wrong with the photos.

Marshall April 8, 2011 at 7:20 am


Fabulous recipe. My family really likes to bring the heat….how hot is this recipe?

Rachel April 8, 2011 at 7:32 am

Marshall: It’s pretty spicy – but in a GOOD way!

Marshall April 8, 2011 at 7:39 am

Thanks Rachel

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