Pascale's kitchen: Beets galore

This week, I am bringing you four beet recipes that are extremely easy to prepare: Beet kubbeh soup, beets stuffed with a vegan filling, a spicy and tangy raw beet salad and beet carpaccio.

 Beet Kubbeh soup (Kubbeh Shwander) (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Beet Kubbeh soup (Kubbeh Shwander)
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Beets are beautiful, nourishing and sweet. This round vegetable, with its unusual color and texture, was recently declared a super food, since it’s rich in minerals, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron and vitamin B. 

Each community has its own special ways to prepare beets. For example, in Kurdish cuisine, you’ll find the popular kubbeh soup; in Eastern European cuisine there is borscht; and beet salads and spreads in North African and Sephardi cuisine. 

The only issue is beets are a little cumbersome to handle, since they are difficult to peel and require long cooking times to soften. Moreover, beets are incredibly messy and stain red anything and everything that it comes in contact with them. On the other hand, this very same quality makes cooking with beets so exciting, and they are great for adding color to bread, dough, pasta and juices. 

This week, I am bringing you four beet recipes that are extremely easy to prepare. The first recipe is for beet kubbeh soup, which hails from Iraqi, Kurdish, Syrian and Lebanese cuisine, with every family claiming that they prepare the best kubbeh. The outer part of kubbeh balls are made from semolina, and the filling is made from beef or mutton mixed with onion, herbs and spices. These balls are cooked in the beet soup. The outer semolina covering the meat balls needs to be thin, but not too thin. They need to be just thick enough so that they can keep the meat surprise hidden inside the dough. 

The second recipe is for beets stuffed with a vegan filling made from bulgur, herbs and hazelnuts. The stuffed beets are cooked in a sweet sauce that brings out the wonderful flavor of the beets. 

The third recipe is for a spicy and tangy raw beet salad. The dressing is made from olive oil and lemon juice, and you can also add balsamic vinegar, sesame oil, herbs and garlic. 

The fourth recipe is for beet carpaccio, which can be made with raw or cooked beets. All you need to do is add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salty cheese and herbs. 

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Beet kubbeh soup (kubbeh shwander)Makes 30 kubbeh balls.

Dough:3 cups of semolina1 ½ cups water¾ tsp. salt2 Tbsp. oil

Filling: 3-4 Tbsp. oil3 medium onions, chopped finely½ kg ground beef1 tsp. salt2 tsp. baharat¾ tsp. black pepper3 celery leaves, chopped finely

 Beet Kubbeh soup (Kubbeh Shwander) (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Beet Kubbeh soup (Kubbeh Shwander) (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

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It’s best to cook the kubbeh balls just before serving so that they can soften and absorb the flavor of the soup. 

Cooking time is 20-25 minutes. Sometimes even 15 minutes is enough.

It’s best to knead the dough well to help it soften. Then, let it rest so that it will have time to absorb all of the liquid. 

Mix all the dough ingredients together in a large bowl until the dough is mixed well. Set it aside for 15 minutes. 

Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion until it becomes translucent. Add the ground beef and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the flame and add the spices and celery leaves. Stir well. Alternatively, you can add the filling ingredients together in a bowl without cooking them. Just know, that if you choose the latter method, the cooking time will be longer. Create 30 balls of the filling. 

Take a little bit of the semolina mixture in your hand and form a thin circle that is the same thickness throughout. Place a ball of meat on each circle of dough and roll into balls so that all of the meat is covered with dough. Place the kubbeh balls on a tray. You can wet or put a little oil on your hands if they get too sticky. 

Beet soup

2 Tbsp. oil1 onion, chopped finely4 beets (grate 1 of them and cut the other 3 into thin slices)1 tomato, chopped2 cloves of garlic, crushed2 Tbsp. tomato pasteJuice from ½ a lemon1 tsp. sugar1 tsp. salt½ tsp. baharat½ tsp. pepper9 cups of water

TiPascale 

For softening beets:

You can cook the beets in water or wrap them with foil and bake them for an hour in the oven.

You can buy vacuum packages of cooked beets in the grocery store. The very small beets are great for using in salads, but if you’re preparing the stuffed beets, choose only large beets. 

I recommend using raw, peeled beets in salads since they have such a strong color and taste. 

Sauté the onion in a large pot until they become translucent. Add all the beets, the tomato and the garlic. Stir and then add the water. 

Stir and then add the tomato paste, lemon juice and spices. Bring to a boil. Lower the flame and cook for 10 minutes. Add the kubbeh balls and cook for 20-25 minutes. 

Level of difficulty: Medium.Time: 90 minutes. Status: Meat.

Beets stuffed with bulgur, hazelnuts and herbsMakes 6 servings. 

 Beets stuffed with bulgur, hazelnuts and herbs. (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Beets stuffed with bulgur, hazelnuts and herbs. (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

6 medium beets cooked in an oven for 90 minutes (or prepared beets in vacuum packaging)

Filling:¾ cup bulgur, soaked in water and drained¼ cup hazelnuts, chopped finely¼ cup almonds, ground¼ cup parsley, chopped finely2 Tbsp. mint leaves, chopped finely1 ½ Tbsp. pomegranate syrup1 tsp. sesame or olive oilSalt and pepper, to taste

Sauce: 2 Tbsp. pomegranate syrup2 Tbsp. silan½ cup unsweetened cranberries ½ tsp. black pepper½ tsp. salt

Place the beets on your work surface, chop off the tops and set them aside. Using a melon baller, scoop out the insides of the beets. (Use these pieces that you cut out for making a beet salad.)

Place the filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning. Fill the beets with the filling and then place the chopped-off tops back on top. 

Place the stuffed beets in a medium flat pot that can fit them easily. Add the pomegranate syrup, silan, cranberries, salt and pepper. 

Pour water in the pot so that it covers halfway up the beets. Shake the pot gently and then bring to a boil over a medium flame. Lower the flame and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Baste the beets every once in a while with the sauce. 

Level of difficulty: Medium.Time: 40 minutes. Status: Vegan.

Tangy beet saladMakes 4-6 servings. 

 Tangy beet salad (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Tangy beet salad (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

3-4 cooked beets (or prepared beets in vacuum packaging)2 Tbsp. olive oil2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice1 tsp. pomegranate syrup or vinegarSalt and pepper, to taste2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped1 scallion, chopped2 cloves of garlic, crushed1 tsp. brown sugar

Cut the beets into strips using a serrated cutter. Place them in a large bowl. 

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. 

Level of difficulty: Easy.Time: 10 minutes. Status: Parve.

Beet carpaccio

 Beet carpaccio (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Beet carpaccio (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

This dish can be made with raw, boiled or baked beets. The most important thing is to slice the beets as thinly as possible. Makes 4 servings.

2-3 beets, peeled and sliced thinly2 scallions, sliced thinly100 gr. salty cheese, crumbledSalt and pepper, to taste2 Tbsp. olive oil2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar1 Tbsp. honey or silan

Toppings:2 Tbsp. pine nuts, fresh or roastedMint leaves

Arrange the beet slices on a flat plate. Sprinkle the scallions and cheese on top, then season with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil, balsamic vinegar and silan on top. Add pine nuts and mint leaves. 

Level of difficulty: Easy.Time: 10-15 minutes. Status: Dairy.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.