Tag Archives: beets

Fall Salad of Pomegranate, Seckel Pears, Feta, & Roasted Beet

Salads are the most amazing food. What else allows you to play as freely with texture, color, and flavor? Desserts, I suppose; but desserts are far more contrived, the result much further from the original ingredients. A good salad just draws on the nature of each ingredient to create an amazing whole. The salad below, which has quickly become our favorite over the last few weeks, is a prime example of how you can combine contrasting elements to create a truly spectacular dish with little effort.

Start with sweet, earthy baby beets, and roast them. Slice crisp Seckel pears, skin and all. Toast nutty pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Pop ruby-hued, tart pomegranate seeds out of their sheath. Crumble salty Feta. Line a platter with refreshing leaves of lettuce. Enjoy. Crave the rest of the week, until you make it again.

A delicious variation: swap peppery arugula for the lettuce, and toasted hazelnuts for the seeds.


Serves 2 as an appetizer

  • 1 large beet or 2 medium beets, about 1/2 pound total, scrubbed and trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ripe Seckel pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 small head oak leaf or other curly, sweet lettuce, washed, dried, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce French Feta, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the beets on a sheet of aluminum foil, sprinkle with the Kosher salt, and wrap to enclose in the foil. Place on a baking sheet. Roast in the preheated for 1 hour, or until tender and easily pierced with a knife. Cool, then unwrap and remove the skins with a sharp knife or by rubbing with paper towels. Cut into thin slices and place in a small bowl. Pour on 1 tablespoon of the Sherry vinegar, and season with 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Set aside to steep for 10 minutes or up to 2 hours at room temperature.

In a small bowl, toss the sliced pears with the lemon juice. Set aside for 10 minutes (but no longer than 30 minutes, or the pears will become mushy).

In a small, dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sunflower and pumpkin seeds until golden, stirring often, about 3 minutes; set aside.

Cut the pomegranate in half along the width (in other words, along the Equator line). Working over a bowl to catch the juices and stray seeds, remove the seeds from the pomegranate. Pick out any bits of papery skin.


When you are ready to serve, toss the greens with the remaining tablespoon of Sherry vinegar, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Add the olive oil and toss again. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Divide among 2 plates.

Top with the beets and any of their marinade, followed by the pears and any of their juices. Scatter the sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, and Feta over the top. Serve at once, before the greens wilt.


Israeli Couscous with Roasted Summer Vegetables & Toasted Seeds

A few days ago we were invited to our chef Elizabeth’s wedding celebration. Everyone brought a favorite food from home, and one of the dishes we most enjoyed was made by Jessie, a chef who has worked with us for many years. It was colorful, unusual, and delicious. This is our somewhat pared down version of hers: I have omitted the green apples, tomatoes, and a number of hard-to-find ingredients (culantro and aji dulce among them). The result is visually striking, vibrant in flavor, and very addictive thanks to the pop of the toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds. If you like cilantro and happen to have a bunch with stems attached, chop the stems (not the leaves) and add them to the onion and garlic base when sautéing.

The salad keeps well for days in the refrigerator but needs to come to room temperature before serving for best flavor. The list looks daunting, but it is actually very easy to put together, as most of the work is hands-off. Be mindful of the fact that different brands of Israeli couscous absorb different amounts of liquid; the varieties imported from the Middle-East require almost double the amount of water to cook through, so adjust as needed.

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side dish

For the beets:

  • 2 medium or 4 small beets, scrubbed
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the vegetables:

  • 1 small Japanese or Italian eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon amarillo chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the couscous:

  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup boiling water, plus extra as needed

For the seeds:

  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

To serve:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Make the beets: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (preferably set on convection). Toss the beets with the olive oil and salt and wrap in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven until tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour for small beets and 2 hours for large beets. Unwrap, cool 5 minutes, then rub between paper towels to dislodge the skin. When the beets are cool enough to handle, cut into 1/2-inch dice and set aside in a large bowl.

Make the vegetables: Toss all the ingredients on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast in the preheated oven until browned lightly and tender, about 30 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the vegetables; they should still have some life to them. Add to the beets in the large bowl.

Make the couscous: Place the olive oil, onion, and garlic in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Sauté for 2 minutes over medium heat, or until aromatic. Add the couscous and sauté for 3 minutes, or until the couscous is lightly golden; this step intensifies the flavor of the couscous by lightly toasting it. Add the salt and pepper, and slowly pour in the boiling water (it may splutter, so stand back).

Cover with the lid and cook over low heat for 12 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the couscous is tender. If the couscous has absorbed all the water but is still chewy, add more water as needed to finish cooking the couscous (different brands absorb different amounts of liquid, so do check for doneness and adjust as needed).

Add to the vegetables in the bowl.

Make the seeds: In a clean skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and cook 2 minutes, stirring often, or until golden and nutty-smelling. Watch that the seeds do not burn or they will taste bitter. Add to the couscous and vegetables in the bowl.

To serve: Cool the salad to room temperature, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Stir in the olive oil, adjust the salt and pepper, and serve at room temperature.


Chilled Beet Soup with Buttermilk & Dill

Our friend Grazina brought us a container of this shockingly pink soup two weeks ago, on a particularly hot day. It looked like nothing I had ever eaten before, and at first my husband and I could not quite figure out what was in it, other than beets and dairy and dill.

This soup, known in Grazina’s Lithuanian family as “Pink Soup”, is a chilled borscht of sorts. I grew up eating borscht (my Romanian Jewish grandmother made it often) and never really liked it. This soup tasted nothing like the borscht I knew. It is brightly flavored, herbal, and so refreshing. While the ingredient list looks daunting, the actual process is quick and easy: roast some beets; boil some eggs and beet greens (though Grazina uses spinach, and you can too); crush scallions with dill and salt; toss all of the above with buttermilk, sour cream, lemon juice, cucumbers; and enjoy the next day, after the flavors have had a chance to mingle and develop fully.

Serves 4

For the beets:

  • ½ pound beets( 2 medium or 3 small), scrubbed
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 packed cups finely chopped fresh beet greens or spinach
  • 2 large or 3 medium scallions, white and green parts, very thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh dill leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 and ½ teaspoons sea salt, plus extra to taste
  • 1 large or 2 small Kirby cucumbers, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice, plus extra to taste
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • ¾ cup light sour cream


Make the beets: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the beets on a roasting pan and toss with the salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven until tender when pierced with a knife, about 2 hours. Larger beets may take longer. Cool to room temperature, then peel and cut into ¼-inch dice.

Make the soup: Place the eggs in a small pot. Add cool water to cover. Bring to a boil and shut off the heat. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Let rest 13 minutes to cook through, then drain and cool. Shell and cut into ¼-inch dice.

Place 2 cups of water in the same (empty) pot. Return to a boil. Add the beet greens and boil 3 minutes, or until tender and silky. Drain and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking. Squeeze gently dry.

In a mortar, place the scallions, dill, and salt. Crush with a pestle until the scallions and dill release their juice; they will still be chunky, not pasty.

Place the scallion mixture in a large container. Add the cucumbers, lemon juice, buttermilk, sour cream, cooked beet greens, roasted beets, and hard-boiled eggs. Mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Cover the container and chill overnight.

Adjust the seasoning if needed and serve very cold. The flavor should be slightly tart and sweet, and quite savory; if the soup tastes flat, add a drop more lemon juice and some salt until the flavors brighten.