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Author Notes: 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
Makes 4 cups
- 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
- 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.