Let the beet rockPosted: January 14, 2011
I had this salad as a mezze dish on the menu of my imaginary restaurant since forever. it is based on something a mother of a childhood friend of mine used to make – I think it is Algerian or Tunisian but I`m not sure – she would dress boiled beetroot with oil and orange juice, fresh ginger, currants and coriander.
Combining beets and oranges makes perfect sense, as both are winter things and the fresh ginger, that somehow combines the beets earthy notes and the oranges` sharpness really brings it all together.
Years later, when I tried to make it, I couldn’t get the orange flavour to come out enough unless I added buckets of juice,and it would overpower. I ended up making a sauce with whole oranges, vinegar, honey and chilli, like a spicy marmalade, and leave it quite chunky, so you get a big hit of orange every now and then. I didn’t think the currants were very useful there, and the coriander was replaced with sweet, fragrant basil, and the result, I think, is quite special, and delicious.
There are a few ways of cooking beets – you can boil them in water, but then you dilute the flavour and sweetness. I would always roast them in the oven whole, which concentrate their flavor, than just squeeze them out of their skin, but I recently saw a friend chef of mine peel the beets before roasting them, which seems like a lot of unnecessary effort, as peeling them after they are cooked is so much faster and a lot easier. but he said that this way you get a far better result, with the added flavor of the roasted, slightly charred surface of the vegetable. I had to try it but I really didn’t want it to work. it goes against my grain to do things in a certain way when there is an easier, more efficient way to go about it. I had visions of myself doing nothing but peeling bags of beetroot, walking around with stained hands all the time… bit of a drama in my head. but you can glean from that something about the person I am, and also how busy I think the place will be. Got the beets in the oven, sauce cooking, camera cleaned of beet stains and cleaned again after this picture was taken
There is no comparing the amount of flavour in these beets compared to anything I had before.they were so sweet and earthy, so intense and just a bit smokey, completely worth the extra effort that ,dramas aside, is not that much of an effort after all.
Dice the beets, dress with olive oil, fresh ginger and salt, orange sauce and basil on top, and wish my photographic skills will one day be able to this beautiful dish justice