Beets were eaten plain in Aleppo, and it is still a common sight to see freshly peeled whole cooked beets on the lunch or dinner table. The tamarind paste in this recipe is a tart contrast to the beets, making for a very interesting sweet-and-savory combination. Look for smooth, hard, round beets for this recipe. A deep red color indicates quality. Yellow or orange beets can be used as well.
- 6 beets (2 pounds), peeled and stems trimmed
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons ouc (tamarind concentrate), homemade or store-bought (see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ½ small onion, chopped (about ¼ cup)
1. Put the beets in a large saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the beets are fork-tender. (Larger beets may be sliced in half before cooking to speed up the cooking time.)
2. Drain the beets and “shock” in a bowl of ice and cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain again. Cut into ½-inch cubes and transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
3. To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, ouc, cumin, Aleppo pepper, and salt in a small mixing bowl and mix well.
4. Pour the dressing over the beets. Add the parsley and onions and give it a stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
This recipe serves 6.