I made this recipe for beet, yogurt, and lemon relish in two parts, or over the course of two days. Yesterday, I roasted the beets, as well as the yellow bell peppers. I let both cool down, Removed the skins from the roasted peppers and beets and cut the beets into wedges. Phew! Done for the day. Especially since I had already cooked some cranberry scones that morning.
I almost scarfed down too many beets to go on with the recipe, but controlled myself before it was too late. As Scarlett said before the intermission in the movie "Gone With the Wind," (my mother's favorite movie), "tomorrow is another day,".
The next morning I got right to it. I had a pint of cherry tomatoes in my kitchen, and thought of cooking them down, instead of using canned plum tomatoes, but I felt there wasn't enough there, since some had to be discarded. I did use my cherry tomatoes to make a lovely breakfast.
To use preserved lemons, or not, that is the question...
The recipe featured today (not my breakfast), is one from the cookbook, "Plenty," by Yotam Ottolenghi. He calls his recipe, "Beet, yogurt and preserved lemon relish." Note that I left out the word "preserved" in my adapted version of this recipe.
I have seen jars of preserved lemons in my food coop, on the shelf that houses pickles, sauerkraut, and such jarred food. The preserved lemons come from a far away place, and the jar is quite large. I had a conversation with myself in the food aisle, when purchasing ingredients for this recipe. "Go on, just pick up the jar and put it in your basket! Be adventurous and try something new! Make the recipe the way it is supposed to be made, for goodness sake!"
Then the other voice came in. I would characterize it as the negative voice. But reading this over, I think they are both pretty negative. "What do you want to spend so much money for a big jar of preserved lemons! You will never use them again, and the recipe only calls for 3 Tbsp. chopped preserved lemon! The carbon foot print is too big to buy this big big big jar of preserved lemons flown to Park Slope from the Mid-East!"
In the end, frugality won out, and I did not buy the jar of preserved lemons. I decided to zest the rind of the lemon, and then supreme the lemon. Cutting the sections out of the pith is like doing micro-surgery on a very small animal. I got some sections out of the endeavor, and then added the lemon juice resulting from botched surgery to the pan, when the lemon elements were required. Tasting the relish I could see how much brightness the lemon did add to the dish, despite the fact it was not a "preserved lemon."
What will be your cooking challenges in the coming year?
I have been reading some cooking columns on social media, and with the coming new year, there seems to be a buzz about asking home cooks what mountains in cooking they would like to climb for the coming year. A sort of variation on making new year's resolutions.
Thinking about this while I cooked this recipe for Beet, yogurt and lemon relish, I decided that my answer would be to sharpen my chefs' knives well (and then use them very very carefully), and to see if there are any youtube videos on how to chop herbs, like the parsley and cilantro used in this recipe.
However, I did make one discovery about chopping herbs, by chance. After initially chopping the herbs, consolidate them by remounding them into a pile, Further chopping will be more effective than if the chopped herbs are spread out flatly on the chopping board.
One more home chef's goal for the new year? Make preserved lemons at home. Maybe for you, but not for me, thank you. But who knows, maybe I will change my mind one day.
Take the challenge and cook this recipe for beet, yogurt and lemon relish.
I hope you will take the challenge to make this recipe in a relaxed manner. Breaking up tasks over two days, makes it manageable. One criticism of Ottolenghi's recipes, is that they are too complicated for the home cook. Even his latest, "Simple," has been criticized in this sort of way...simple for Ottolenghi, but not for the rest of us! However, I find that the end results of his recipes are so flavorful, and delightfully different from the ordinary, that making the extra effort to cook them, is worth it.
For those of us who are more homebodies than actual mountain climbers, let's make some of these recipes our Everest. Try making this recipe for Beet, yogurt and lemon relish and enjoy!
Beet, yogurt and lemon relish.
Elevate your roasted beets to something special with this recipe. Relish may be used in other ways. Try topping a baked potato with some relish, for example.
- 2 large beets
- 4 heaped tbsp chopped dill
- 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 2/3 cup Greek yogurt
- 2 yellow bell peppers
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1-1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 fourteen oz can chopped plum tomatoes (with their juices)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt and black pepper
- 3 tbsp chopped preserved lemon
- 2 tbsp each chopped parsley and cilantro
Start by cooking the beets whole in plenty of boiling water for 1 to 2 hours, or until they are tender; check by piercing them with a knife. Allow them to cool down completely before you peel them and cut into wedges. Note: I roasted my beets in a 400 degree oven for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. I scrubbed the beets, coated them with olive oil and covered them in a foil packet placed on a baking tray. Ottolenghi recommends roasting beets, especially when they are young beets available in the summer months, as they are more flavorful this way.
To make the relish. Preheat the grill too high. Use a small knife to cut around the stems of the peppers; carefully pull out the stems with the seeds and discard. Place the peppers on a grill pan lined with foil and grill for up to 30 minutes, or until they are cooked inside and black on the outside, turning them over once during the cooking. Fold the edges of the foil over the peppers to enclose them completely, then leave to cool down. Peel them and cut into strips. Note: I cut the peppers in half and removed stem and seeds, rubbed them with olive oil and roasted them on a baking sheet lined with foil. I baked them the same time I baked the beets.
Pour the olive oil into a medium saucepan, heat up and fry the coriander seeds for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, garlic sugar and some salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the preserved lemon and continue simmering for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the herbs and yellow peppers.
When you are ready to finish the salad, transfer the cool beet wedges to a mixing bowl and add the relish, dill, red onion and some salt and pepper. Stir well, then taste for seasoning. Just before you serve, add the yogurt, and swirl it through gently. Don't stir too much, so you get a white and red marbled effect rather than uniform pink.