Beets with tahini, a simple vegan, gluten-free and paleo side dish with five simple ingredients and ten minutes of prep.
People often ask me where I find my inspiration for recipes. To be honest I couldn’t say for sure. It comes from many places. Some expected, like the farmers’ market or what tumbled onto the counter out of the bag of veggies from or CSA. Or occasionally something will be sparked from unexpected places like when I hear something mentioned about George Washington’s favorite foods on the radio.
It goes without saying that a great meal at a restaurant is an expected place for inspiration to hit. When I go out to eat, yes it is to relax and have a nice time, but also not too far back in my mind, is my agenda to find inspiration for my work. It’s like delicious relaxing R and D for a recipe developer.
The inspiration for these beets with tahini was from a source both expected and unexpected.
Expected: I was inspired by the meal I had at famed and trendy Israeli restaurant Zahav during my recent food tour of Philly.
This dish had arrived with our salatim course. This is the name of the salad course. It consists of little dishes of beautiful and simple vegetables. You can see a menu here to get an idea of the combinations.
Above all, the beets were what got my creative juices flowing. It really didn’t look like much but was so interesting. At first I couldn’t figure out what the flavor was that I recognized in it. My friend Maura who was with me was the one who put her finger on it. Tahini! Of course. I had never had tahini with beets before, and the combination was magical.
When I got home I started playing around beets and tahini. I just wanted to see how uncomplicated I could get with the idea of making a simple beet salad with tahini in it. I wanted to do something similar to these pickled beets, with a tahini twist.
It took a try or two to get the balance right. What I found was that the beets and tahini are both very earthy, so they need more salt, olive oil and acidity than I thought they would need. This salad I ended up with is very easy, only 10 minutes of prep, and it has a nice balance of earthiness, creaminess and sweet.
Are you inspired by restaurant meals?
Where else do you find inspiration for recipes and cooking?
Have you had beets and tahini before?
Have you eaten at Zahav or another Michael Solomonov restaurant?
A quick little article about Michael Solomonov and what inspired him to become the chef he is today plus a recipe for the actual beets at the restaurant.
Roasted beets with walnuts and dill from a feature about Solomonov in the March/April issue of EatingWell.
Simple beet salad with tahini, red wine vinegar and shallot.
- 2 pounds beets, stem and root ends trimmed
- 1small or ½ large shallot, peeled and chopped
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 tablespoon warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- sesame seeds and parsley for garnish, if desired
- Place beets in a large saucepan. Cover generously with cold water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a lively simmer and cook, adding water if necessary to keep beets submerged, until they are tender when pierced with a fork, 45 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes depending on the size of the beets. Drain and return to the pot. Run cold water over the beets for several minutes to cool them enough to peel. Peel by rubbing skin off with fingers or use a pairing knife. Dice the beets into small cubes.
- Puree shallot, oil, vinegar, tahini, water and salt in a mini prep or food processor. Toss beets with the tahini sauce and transfer to a serving bowl. Top with sesame seeds and parsley if using.
More restaurant-inspired recipes you may like from the archives: