This beetroot salad recipe is from the Turkish section of Claudia Roden's Arabesque. Roden provides great Turkish recipes in her book and a comprehensive preface on Turkish kitchen, though, I must say with incorrect translations of titles (i.e., incorrect use of grammar). Not ever having tried this salad, and having recently roasted some beetroots in the oven (a la Stephanie Alexander), I decided to use some of the beetroots on this recipe. I loved the chunkiness of beetroot with garlic yoghurt and with good quality olive oil. On another occasion, tinned beetroots also worked well.
For a richer flavour, make the salad at least two hours prior to serving. The recipe below gives Roden's instructions. The amount of ingredients can be reduced at least by half (I used one third). The garlic is optional, but unless you are against garlic, do not leave it out.
1 kilo beetroot
2 garlic cloves, chopped (optional)
500 gr strained Greek style yoghurt
2 tablesp lemon juice
6 tablesp extra virgin olive oil
handful of chopped mint, or flat-leaf parsley
For the beetroots: Cut the stems and leaves about 2 cm above the beetroot.
TO BOIL, cook them in plenty of boiling salted water until tender - small ones will take about 30 mins, larger ones about 1,5 hours.
TO ROAST, put them on a sheet of foil on a baking sheet, cover them with foil, and roast in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees (400 F/ gas 6) for 2-3 hours, depending on their size, until one feels tender when cut right through with a knife.
You could cut them in half (lay them cut side down) and reduce the cooking time considerably (my note: cutting prior to cooking bleeds the beetroots - so better not to). When cool enough to handle, peel the beetroots.
For the salad: Cut the beetroots into 1 cm rounds or half-moon slices. Wear rubber gloves to avoid staining your hands. If using tinned beetroots, buy sliced beetroots.
Beat the chopped garlic (if using) into the yoghurt and spread the mixture on a serving plate. Arrange the beetroot slices on top. Beat the lemon juice with the oil and a little salt, stir in the mint or parsley, and spoon over the beetroot slices.
Variation: A Lebanese version uses 1 1/2 tablespoons of tahini beaten into the yoghurt.