HELLO! We have a winner! I made this delicious salad today after putting it off for several days because it seemed so labor intensive, which it pretty much is. I have to admit to leaving out the culinary lavender. It just isn’t available locally this time of the year. I suspect I like the salad better without it anyway. Also, you can’t buy mache in this town either so I went with baby greens. Just keepin’ it real. I also didn’t believe that I would need a mallet to get the salt crust broken away from the beets. Guess what? I needed the mallet and I had to beat the heck out of it. My cutting board and hands are stained beet red, I have three pounds of hard salt to dispose of and a Pyrex dish to clean but I think it was worth it all. The flavor of the beets was wonderful. The dressing with the crispy bits of shallot the perfect accompaniment.
Here’s the recipe from Sunset:
- 4 large egg whites, beaten to blend
- 1 box (3 lbs.) plus 1/4 tsp. kosher salt*
- 1/3 cup chopped plus 1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup plus 1/4 tsp. minced dried lavender
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 3 each medium red and golden beets (1 3/4 lbs. total without tops), trimmed and gently scrubbed (see Notes)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon minced shallot
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 firm-ripe avocado, cut into small wedges
- 2 cups (1 1/4 oz.) loosely packed mÁ¢che
- 1. Preheat oven to 425°. In a large bowl, combine egg whites, 3 lbs. salt, 1/3 cup thyme, 1/4 cup lavender, peppercorns, and 1/2 cup water, mixing with your hands until salt is evenly coated and feels like wet sand.
- 2. Spoon enough of the salt mixture into a 9- by 13-in. baking pan to make a 1/4-in. layer in pan. Arrange beets on top without letting them touch. Mound remaining salt over each beet, pressing with hands to cover completely and make a crust.
- 3. Bake beets until very tender when pierced through salt, about 1 1/4 hours.
- 4. Poke tip of a table knife into salt crust about 1 in. from a beet and tap with mallet to crack crust. Move and tap knife in 1/2-in. increments in a circle around beet. Break beet free from crust and lift out. Repeat with remaining beets. Let beets stand until cool enough to handle.
- 5. In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, shallot, pepper, and remaining salt, thyme, and lavender. Spoon 1 tbsp. dressing into a second bowl and 1/2 tbsp. dressing into a third bowl.
- 6. Brush remaining salt off beets with a pastry brush. Peel beets and cut into thin wedges. Add golden beets and avocado to largest amount of dressing. Add red beets to bowl with 1 tbsp. dressing, and mÁ¢che to bowl with 1/2 tbsp. dressing. Gently mix each to coat. Divide beets, avocado, and mÁ¢che among 6 salad plates.