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Shaved Beet Salad with Garlic Labne, Black Sesame Seeds and Mint

By Heidi Allison
Image of Beet Salad
This cutting-edge side dish will forever change how you think about beets. While most recipes use cooked beets—roasted, boiled or steamed—this recipe transforms the sweet, earthy root vegetable by presenting them in new way: the beets are tender but raw! Not only does this culinary technique preserve the beets stunning magenta color, it also imparts an entirely new texture to the finished dish, going from the conventional baby-food soft mouth feel found in cooked beets to refreshingly crunchy.
Image of beets
The secret to the success of this dish is in the prep: the fresh beets are first peeled, then shredded in a food processor, using the medium-size hole grater, which produces thin, shaved beet slices with a large surface area to uptake the tenderizing sauce — a garlicky Middle Eastern Labne. Somewhere between cream cheese and full-fat Greek yogurt, labne is unique in that it has a thicker, smoother texture, less tangy flavor and slightly saltier taste. It is the secret ingredient in Middle Eastern dishes for tenderizing meat and poultry and thickening soups. With tough root veggies, such as beets, the tenderizing process goes rather quickly —in about 15 minutes. As the beets release their sweet juices and mingle with the garlicky, rich and creamy labne, a dressing evolves in the bowl —without any work! A great dish to do with your kids since its goofproof, and, an innovative, lowcal alternative for mayo-based coleslaws layered in roast turkey or pastrami sandwiches!

But, this quick and easy 5-ingredient salad brings more to the table than just great taste— ruby red beets are currently rated as nutritional powerhouses, taking center stage as part of a healthy diet. Red beets contain some nutrients you won’t find anywhere else. Beets are rich in nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide—a compound which relaxes and dilates blood vessels. In several studies, this lowered blood pressure and increased blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain—a region involved with focus, organization and attention to detail. An amino acid found in beets, betaine, may help prevent and reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver. Research in people with diabetes found that betaine improved liver function.

Shaved Beet Salad with Garlic Labne, Black Sesame Seeds and Mint
Serves: 4 as a side

Image of Ingredients
2 large red beets
1 clove garlic, peeled
Sprinkle of kosher flake salt
1 lemon
1 Tbsp. black sesame seeds
Sprig of fresh mint (optional) plus 1 tsp. Honey (FYI: really balanced flavor)

Image of halved/quartered beets
Cut beets into halves or quarters and feed through the food processor tube, using a medium-size hole grater blade, until all the beets are shredded. Transfer shredded beets to a large bowl and set aside.
Image of shredded beets in bowl
Using a microplane, grate garlic over beets, zest the lemon, add labne, honey and salt and gently mix until combined. Cover and place in the refrigerator to allow flavors to marry—about 20 minutes.
Image of shredded beets with grated lemon
Toss again and transfer beet salad to a serving plate and top with black sesame seeds and a sprig of mint. Serve with hummus and pita bread as an entrée or alone as a side dish.
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