This beet salad comes from Michael Solomonov’s cookbook Zahav (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015). It's one of the best cold salads I've ever had—earthy from the salt-crusted, roasted beets, lemony and rich from the tehina sauce, and bright from the fresh herbs. There's a recipe within a recipe here: you'll get extra tehina sauce to use later (trust me, that's a good thing). —Samantha Weiss Hills
plus 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
garlic cloves, unpeeled
(or more) freshly-squeezed lemon juice
excellent quality tahini a.k.a. tehina—Chef Michael Solomonov loves Soom Foods, available on Amazon)
(or more) ground cumin (optional)
chopped fresh dill, plus more for topping
chopped fresh mint, plus more for topping
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spread 1 cup of the salt in an ovenproof skillet or baking dish. Put the beets on the salt and cover with the remaining 4 cups salt. Bake until the beets are tender, about 90 minutes. Note: For this portion of the salt, I use coarse salt. For the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons, I use fine kosher salt.
While you're waiting, make the tehina sauce. Process the garlic, 1/3 cup of the lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor until coarsely puréed; let sit 10 minutes to allow garlic to mellow. Strain the garlic mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing on solids to release as much liquid as possible. Return liquid to food processor; discard solids. Add tahini and pulse to combine. Add cumin if you like. With motor running, add 1/4 cup ice water by the tablespoonful and process (it may seize up at first) until mixture is very smooth, pale, and thick.
Peel and grate the cooled beets into a mixing bowl using the course holes of a box grater. Add 1/2 cup of the tehina sauce (you’ll have a lot leftover to use at a later time), oil, lemon juice, dill, and mint and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix well to blend. Top with more chopped dill and mint and serve at room temperature.