My dad is of Lebanese heritage, and since I was a little girl, I’ve always been fascinated by belly dancers. The costumes! The finer cymbals! The glittery, shimmery jewels that accentuate the way they move. I’ve even taken belly dancing classes at different times throughout my life. I’ve never gotten very good at it, but it’s still super fun.
Turns out, the Western form of belly dancing that most of us have seen – with gauzy costumes and jangling jewelry – is based on the Ghawazi dancers of Egypt. The Arabic word “ghawazi” means “conqueror,” a reference to the way the dancer conquered the heart of her audience. It makes me wonder: If the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach, doesn’t Belly Dance Beet Salad double our heart-winning powers? This salad is exotic, but not fussy or too challenging. The flavors make sense but are also magically unexpected. I like to eat it at room temperature, but you can dance with it the way you like.
Belly Dance Beet Salad
Serves 2-4 | Prep 15 minutes | Cook 1 hour
2 bunches beets (about 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup shelled pistachios
juice of 1/2 large orange (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon salt
a few shakes of ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 scallions, white and green, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Cover two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Wash the beets, and cut off the stem and root ends – no need to peel them! Cut the beets in half and toss with melted coconut oil. Roast for about 45-60 minutes, until tender.
3. To toast the pistachios, spread them in a single layer on the other baking sheet and add to the oven during the last 7-10 minutes of roasting the beets. Allow them to cool, then coarsely chop them.
4. While the beets and pistachios are roasting, whisk the orange juice, vinegar, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Whisking continuously, drizzle in the olive oil and set the dressing aside.
5. When the beets are done, allow them to cool enough to handle and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. (PRO TIP: Use the parchment paper from the baking sheet on top of your cutting board for easier cleanup.) Place the beets in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Add the scallions and pistachios and toss well with two wooden spoons. Allow to cool to room temperature before eating. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if necessary.
Don’t toss the tops!
Wash the beet tops thoroughly to remove grit, then chop and throw in a pan with a little water and steam ’til tender. Toss with ghee or coconut oil, salt, pepper, and a clove of crushed garlic. Eat as a bed of awesomeness under the room temperature beet salad!
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