WELL RED In this surprising and delicious salad, earthy beets, summer strawberries are layered on the creamy slush of yogurt that has been strained.
ILLUSTRATION: MICHAEL HOEWELER
THE CHEF: Renee Touponce
Restaurants: Port of Call and Oyster Club, both in Mystic, Conn.
What she’s famous for innovative recipes that honor the fresh seafood that is caught locally and by farm families of coastal Connecticut. Chefs in charge of two popular restaurants in a rapidly growing New England food town.
“I LOVE earthy, sweet dishes,” said Reneé Touponce of this dynamic beet and strawberry salad, her second Slow Food Fast contribution. Resting on honeyed labneh and finished with a boldly spiced brown-butter drizzle, the combo is creamy, tart, and nutty—like a savory ice cream sundae.
The chef’s innovative method: Slice roasted beets into chunks of berries and quickly pickle them prior to mixing them into a similar amount of strawberries. “With red or pink beets,” Touponce explained, “the colors bleed a bit and look beautiful.” To drizzle the sauce, melt the butter gently until it becomes brown and nutty, then mix in the aromatics and let the heat go down by allowing the spices to grow. “People don’t think of whole spices as adding texture, but I love their crunch,” Touponce explained. “This salad changes throughout the year at Oyster Club, but this combo is a favorite.”
Kitty Greenwald is a chef and food writer and co-author of Slow Fires (Clarkson Potter)
Beet and Strawberry Salad With Spiced Brown Butter and Labneh
This delicious and unexpected salad of earthy beets and summer strawberries sits on top of an icy swirl of strained yogurt.
Total Time35 minutes
- 12-small or 4-medium beets (about 1 1 pound)
- Two tablespoons of olive oil and an additional tablespoon for drizzling
- Salt Kosher
- 1/2 cup Champagne vinegar
- 1 pint of strawberries should be cleaned and the berries should be trimmed
- 1 1/2 cup labneh
- 1 tablespoon honey
- One lemon, squeezed and zested
- Half Cup (1 stick) salted butter
- 2 tablespoons of coriander seeds
- Three small dried red chillies
- 4 sprigs of fresh Thyme
- 2-3 tablespoons of fresh mint or parsley roughly torn
- Bake at 450 degrees. Spread beets out on baking dish. Drizzle in olive oil and 2 tablespoons of water and salt. Cover with foil, and roast until tender, about 25 to 35 minutes, based on the size.
- If the beets are still hot you can make use of a kitchen towel to clean off the skins, then dispose of. Cut beets in 1 1/2-inch pieces and put them in a bowl. Mix in vinegar, one tablespoon olive oil, and salt according to your preference. Let it sit for at least 5-10 minutes.
- Cut strawberries into 1/2-inch wedges and put them in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix labneh together with 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and salt. Check the taste and add more honey if needed. You should find it tart, but slightly sweet.
- Make butter by melting it in an oven-proof pan on moderately low temperature. When it’s golden brown and smells nutty, five minutes, turn off the heat. Add coriander seeds immediately, as well as thyme and chiles. Take a minimum of 10 minutes to simmer before removing chillies and thyme.
- Remove beets from vinegar and place them in the bowl with the strawberries. Add salt and drizzle of olive oil. To serve, spread labneh across four plates. Pour the strawberry-beet mix on top of each, and drizzle generously with butter that has a brown coriander flavor. Then, garnish with the zest of a lemon and some fresh herbs.