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.
Sunset JULY 2008
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.
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