Salt-crusted Beets with Avocado, Lavender, and Thyme

Photo: Leigh Beisch; Styling: Dan Becker
Chef Jeremy Fox of Ubuntu restaurant in Napa roasts beets in an aromatic salt crust that infuses the kitchen and the beets with the fragrance of flowers and herbs. We've highlighted them in this simple salad. Prep and Cook Time: about 2 1/2 hours. Notes: To keep the beets from getting too salty, trim and scrub them enough to remove dirt but not the skin. To loosen the baked salt from the pan, soak in water.

Yield:

Makes 6 servings

Recipe from

Nutritional Information

Calories 157
Caloriesfromfat 69 %
Protein 2.1 g
Fat 12 g
Satfat 1.8 g
Carbohydrate 12 g
Fiber 1.7 g
Sodium 0.0 mg
Cholesterol 0.0 mg

Ingredients

4 large egg whites, beaten to blend
1 box (3 lbs.) plus 1/4 tsp. kosher salt*
1/3 cup chopped plus 1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup plus 1/4 tsp. minced dried lavender
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
3 each medium red and golden beets (1 3/4 lbs. total without tops), trimmed and gently scrubbed (see Notes)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 firm-ripe avocado, cut into small wedges
2 cups (1 1/4 oz.) loosely packed mâche

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 425°. In a large bowl, combine egg whites, 3 lbs. salt, 1/3 cup thyme, 1/4 cup lavender, peppercorns, and 1/2 cup water, mixing with your hands until salt is evenly coated and feels like wet sand.

2. Spoon enough of the salt mixture into a 9- by 13-in. baking pan to make a 1/4-in. layer in pan. Arrange beets on top without letting them touch. Mound remaining salt over each beet, pressing with hands to cover completely and make a crust.

3. Bake beets until very tender when pierced through salt, about 1 1/4 hours.

4. Poke tip of a table knife into salt crust about 1 in. from a beet and tap with mallet to crack crust. Move and tap knife in 1/2-in. increments in a circle around beet. Break beet free from crust and lift out. Repeat with remaining beets. Let beets stand until cool enough to handle.

5. In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, shallot, pepper, and remaining salt, thyme, and lavender. Spoon 1 tbsp. dressing into a second bowl and 1/2 tbsp. dressing into a third bowl.

6. Brush remaining salt off beets with a pastry brush. Peel beets and cut into thin wedges. Add golden beets and avocado to largest amount of dressing. Add red beets to bowl with 1 tbsp. dressing, and mâche to bowl with 1/2 tbsp. dressing. Gently mix each to coat. Divide beets, avocado, and mâche among 6 salad plates.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.

*Sodium content could not be accurately calculated.

Note:

July 2008