Today’s recipe is one where you might take a look at the ingredient list and wonder if the elements can possibly work together. Beets and cinnamon? Really?
I’m a beet lover to begin with, but the marinade in this recipe takes them to another level. I first made this dish for a Moroccan-themed gourmet club meeting back in July (it was a hit!), and I’ve been making it a couple of times a month since. I served these beets to my mom during her last visit, and she said she could eat them every day (and then went home and made them for herself because she loved them so much). The baking time is long but prep is really minimal, plus this is one of those dishes you can make a couple of days ahead for less stressful cooking and entertaining. Give it a try – I’m sure you’ll love it!
Roasted Beet Salad with Cinnamon
1 pound beets (3 to 4)
2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Large pinch of ground Ceylon cinnamon
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt to taste
Rinse and thoroughly dry the beets, being careful not to break their skins. Cut off the tops, leaving about 1 1/2 inches.
Tightly wrap the beets, with the salt, in foil or parchment paper and set in a shallow baking dish. Bake at 325°F for 2 hours. To check for tenderness, open one end of the packet and test a beet with the tip of a knife to see if the flesh has softened.
Peel the beets, cut into bite-sized pieces, and put in a bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients, pour over the beets, and let marinate for 1 hour before serving. Serve at room temperature.
Source: The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert
This is one of my favorite salads, hands down. The beets are perfectly tender, slightly sweet, and bright from the lemon and parsley. The hint of warmth from the cinnamon really elevates the dish as well. I like to serve this with grilled pork chops, a Moroccan carrot salad (I’ll blog one soon!), and a green salad for a nicely balanced meal.
TIPS: You read that right: two tablespoons of salt. The thing is, in order to use that amount of salt, you absolutely must not puncture the skin of the beets. The “top” of the beet is the stalks of the beet greens, not the beet itself. If the beet flesh is exposed, that amount of salt will render your dish inedible. (I know this from experience!) If this makes you nervous, just put about a teaspoon of salt into the foil packet with your beets, and then pay special attention when seasoning the marinade later.
Also, I often double this recipe so we have more on hand for snacking. I’ve had success with doubling the amount of beets and using a single portion of the marinade.