Beet Salad with Tangy Date Vinaigrette
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2 lbs. small beets, greens trimmed to 1”
4 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Medjool dates
1⁄2 tsp. cumin seeds
1⁄2 tsp. fennel seeds
2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lay two large pieces of aluminum foil in the shape of an X on a baking sheet. Place the beets in the center and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil. Gather the foil into a packet and crimp to seal.
Bake until the beets are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, 40 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Meanwhile, combine the dates, cumin, and fennel in a small saucepan. Add water to cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid, and let the dates cool to the touch. Peel the skin from the dates, remove and reserve the pits, and chop the dates.
In a blender, combine the dates, vinegar, pomegranate molasses, 2 Tbsp. of the reserved cooking liquid, and the reserved date pits. Puree until smooth. With the machine running, gradually add the remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Add more reserved cooking liquid to thin if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour a little of the vinaigrette in the center of each of 6 small plates. Arrange some of the beets on top, dividing equally between each portion. Garnish with the chives and serve.
Note: Pomegranate molasses is available at Middle Eastern markets and most grocery stores alongside maple syrups.