Beet and Fonio Salad

By Pierre Thiam – January 26, 2024

Beet and Fonio Salad

An exquisite combination of the sweet meatiness and the dainty smoky taste of the roasted beets combines with the spicy acidity of the pickled carrots, the freshness of the dill, and the subtle earthiness of the fonio.


  • 3 ½ pounds beets, trimmed and scrubbed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more
for drizzling
  • 1½ cups cooked fonio
  • ½ cup Spicy Pickled Carrots (recipe follows), drained
  • 1½ cups roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  • Kosher salt

Spicy Pickled Carrots

  • 6 carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 cups rice vinegar 


  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil 

Note: These pickled carrots are great as a side or a topping. They will add a burst of fresh and spicy acidity and sweetness. This salad can also be assembled fully up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated, as it improves with time as the fonio absorbs flavors from the dressing and other ingredients. 

Carrots Prep:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the carrots, Scotch bonnet, onion, and salt and let sit for about 1 hour to draw out excess liquid.
  2. Drain the liquid from the carrot mixture and squeeze well. Place the carrot mixture in a saucepan and stir in the sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and cover the pot. Let sit off the heat for about 15 minutes to infuse and cool.
  3. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. Drain before serving.

Vinaigrette Prep:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, garlic, vinegar, salt, and pepper. While whisking, slowly add the oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. 
  2. Coat the beets with the oil and wrap them in aluminum foil. Roast until they are easily pierced by a fork or paring knife, about 1 hour. Let cool. 
  3. Peel the beets and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside if assembling the salad now, or place in a covered container in the refrigerator. 
  4. Combine the fonio, diced beets, pickled carrots, peanuts (if using), and dill in a large serving bowl. Toss well. Dress with enough vinaigrette to coat, drizzling on extra oil at any point to refresh the salad if it appears dry. Season with salt to taste and serve.