Salt-Crust Beets and Grate Them Into This Salad

June 24, 2016

Everyone's history with food tells a story, so we partnered with La Baleine sea salt to share a recipe from a chef who's reverence for heritage inspires us: Zahav's Michael Solomonov.

When I think back to all the dishes I made for Passover this year, which were almost exclusively drawn from Michael Solomonov's wondrous, Piglet-honored cookbook Zahav, my mind wanders most often to a humble cold, grated beet salad mixed with his signature tehina sauce and bright herbs. Tehina sauce is different from tahini, the long-long-used pure sesame paste essential to so much of Middle Eastern, and Israeli, cuisine—and therefore a pillar of Michael's cooking. Tehina sauce the Zahav way is made of tahini and a garlic lemon juice, whipped into a dreamy, thick sauce you can spoon out or swipe your finger at.

The beet salad wasn't a recipe that, on the page, stood out to me as exemplary, but I anticipated it being solidly good judging by the ratio of beets to tehina sauce, lemon juice, and olive oil. (I'm a more-sauce-than-pasta-please kinda gal.) This salad blew me, and all my guests, away with its simple, straightforward flavors that shined strongly without overpowering one another. The added bonus was that I could prep it way ahead of time, and it just got better while everything melded together.

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The first step calls for salt-crusting (or salt-baking) your beets, and since I had never experimented with salt-crusting and baking vegetables before, I was excited to try a new technique. (Salt-crusting itself, of course, is not new: It's been around for thousands of years and used across the world.) While there are varying opinions on whether it's worth it or not to do at home, I found this particular application great: At the same time that I was seasoning the beets, I was also keeping them put for even cooking and encasing the juices that might have bled out onto my pretty enamelware. Pulling them out was like a treasure hunt I knew I was going to win, getting all the little savory nuggets as a prize.

And what did I do once those beets were out of the oven? Watch the video above to see the other steps. (One of the best parts is learning how to make Michael's tehina sauce.) At the risk of sounding cliché, you'll want to put it on and in everything. Especially this beet salad.

La Baleine sea salt certainly has a history—it’s been around since 1856—and we’ve been stocking it in our own kitchens for years, too. It's a pure sea salt originating from the French Mediterranean, drawn from an environmental preserve.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lina Harp ErNorelation
    Lina Harp ErNorelation
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    Jane Katz
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    el aitch
  • cooking44
  • judith2b
I love oysters and unfussy sandwiches.


Lina H. June 30, 2016
I made this last night and was overwhelmed with saltiness. I wanted to like this! But it was wayyyy to salty. Tried to add coucous to temper the saltiness, but nope.
Jane K. June 27, 2016
tres tres jolie!
el A. June 25, 2016
Do you peel the beets at any point?
Do you wash or brush the salt off before grating them?
Thank you.
Samantha W. June 25, 2016
Yes, peel them before grating! And brush the salt off of them beforehand.
cooking44 June 24, 2016
Can you use golden beets or just red?
Samantha W. June 24, 2016
Try it! I bet it'll be delicious.
judith2b June 24, 2016
I'm confused about the Basic Tahini Sauce (ttps:// The recipe is for hummus tehina. Is the "sauce" used in the beet recipe the tehina mixture before the chickpeas are added?
Samantha W. June 24, 2016
Samantha W. June 25, 2016
judith2b, I've adjusted the recipe that's linked to in the post to reflect the full tehina sauce recipe!
Lina H. June 30, 2016
I dont see any chickpeas listed on the recipe!
wendy W. June 24, 2016
Never mind the salad - I just want to try beets this way. Mmmmm.
Sonia June 24, 2016
for those of us who must cut down on our sodium intake because of kidney disease, how much salt seeps into the beets? Will scraping off all the visible salt get rid of the added sodium? and if not, how much sodium am I adding to the beets? Or do I have to forget about this recipe?
Samantha W. June 24, 2016
Another great question. The primary use of salt in this recipe is to alter the cooking method, as opposed to just roasting a beet on a baking sheet. While the beet does absorb some flavor from the salt, the technique is used to cook vegetable without drying out the inside. As to how much sodium gets added to beets, I'm not sure! Do you have a method for measuring?
pennie June 24, 2016
Can you re-use the salt for something???
Samantha W. June 24, 2016
Great question! Hypothetically, since salt is used to preserve and sterilize, you'd definitely be able to use it again to salt-crust and bake. What you might be more worried about is off-flavors depending on what you are salt-crusting.
pennie June 24, 2016
Thanks Samantha....maybe i'll just save it and mark the box "save for beets"!!!
GsR June 24, 2016
FYI, tahini is not kosher for Passover for Ashkenazim
Samantha W. June 24, 2016
Very good note to make, GsR! Thank you for pointing that out for readers. Definitely important to check with everyone to make sure that's ok.
D L. July 5, 2016
Actually, the rule about not eating kitniyot (legumes and rice, basically) during Passover was overturned by the Conservative movement earlier this year! And for Orthodox Jews, Manischewitz put out a "Kosher for Passover" line of things like tahini and peanut butter under the Kitni label, so they can eat something *like* tahini during those eight days.
GsR July 5, 2016
Actually, the "conservative" movement has no authority to overturn the ban of kidniyot for ashkanizm. The ban is still in place!
laurenlocally June 24, 2016
Very excited to try this.