A couple of posts ago I wrote about reuniting with my childhood friend Danielle, from a large Moroccan family, who had grown up to become a caterer. At the time of the reunion I had been fantasizing about a Moroccan lima bean dish that I had spied at a restaurant but didn’t order for some reason, and Danielle was kind enough to help me identify and recreate it. Sensing that I had tapped a culinary jackpot, I asked her for some more recipes, and went home from our reunion brunch with an entire Moroccan dinner menu scribbled on a napkin.
This simple beet salad was part of that jackpot payout. Served warm, it’s a perfect combination of earthy, sweet, tangy, tart, and spicy. And it’s sooo pretty. One of the main ingredients, harissa, is a North African staple—a hot chili paste whose main ingredients are a variety of chilis, garlic, and spices that vary by household and region. It’s easy to find if you have access to a good international market, and can also be purchased online. But if you can’t find it in person, and don’t want to wait for the mailman to deliver it, you can use the alternate option provided below.
This simple, beautiful, warm Moroccan beet salad is a perfect combination of earthy, sweet, tangy, tart, and spicy.
- 1½ pounds beets
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ – 1 teaspoon harissa paste*
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ⅓ cup chopped green onions
- ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
*If you don’t have harissa paste, mix together ½ teaspoon minced garlic, 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Use this mixture, to taste, in place of the harissa.
- Preheat oven to 475°F.
- Scrub beets and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake until tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 75 minutes or more, depending on their size.
- Remove from oven and set aside to cool just enough to handle. The skins should slip off pretty easily—but if they don’t, use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to remove skin.
- Slice beets into bite-sized cubes.
- In a small bowl or a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the vinegar, harissa (or alternate mixture), cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Add olive oil and mix well.
- Taste, and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Toss beets, green onions, and red onion with dressing, to taste. (You might wind up with some dressing left over.)
- Serve warm.