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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.
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.
- 5 cups plus 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 8 medium beets
- 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1/2 cup (or more) freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 2/3 cup excellent quality tahini a.k.a. tehina—Chef Michael Solomonov loves Soom Foods, available on Amazon)
- 1/4 teaspoon (or more) ground cumin (optional)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for topping
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus more for topping
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.