Even the most classic beet salad, says chef Kenneth Tufo, formerly of Strong Place in Cobble Hill, is more interesting and heartier than your average green salad. Still, he engineered a serious departure from the basic beet and chevre combo. In his version, roasted beets are diced and molded with chives, shallots and spices into a thick disc, topped with feta, and served with Papadums, which you can source from Indian markets such as Dual Specialty Store on 1st Ave between 6th and 7th Sts. and Kalustyan’s on Lexington between 28th & 29th Sts. Any shape mold will do, and if you don’t have one, he says, “you can just artfully place a spoon on top of the beets” to smooth feta over them. The following recipe, inspired by this story on beet salads, serves six.
For Roasting Beets:
5 pounds beets
2 cups water
1 cup sherry vinegar
A few sprigs of rosemary and thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
For Beet Mixture:
1 bunch chives
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup sherry vinegar
A pinch of salt, pepper, and raf l’hanout (Arabic spice available at any bulk spice shop, such as Sahadi's on Atlantic)
For Feta Topping:
1/8 cup feta
1/8 cup heavy cream
A pinch of black pepper
Mache or frisée greens
Papadum (Available at an Indian grocer or at Sahadi's)
1. Roast the beets at 275 degrees in a shallow pan with water, sherry vinegar, rosemary, thyme salt and black pepper in shallow pan. Cover with tin foil, put it in the oven. Time depending on the size of the beets 45 minutes for smaller beets, 2 hours for larger varieties.
2. Once fully roasted, let beets cool before peeling off their skin. Then finely dice them into chunks.
3. Mix diced beets with chives, diced shallots, extra virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt, pepper and raf l’hanout.
4. Puree feta cheese with a touch of cream and black pepper until it is a nice thick greek yogurt puree.
5. Place beets in a oval ring mold. Smear feta on top so it is nicely layered.
6. Serve with mache or frissee greens.
7. Take papadums (Tufo prefers black pepper for spice) and deep fry it for just a moment, until crisp. Arrange beside the beets.