Persian Beet & Yoghurt Salad with Pomegranate Seeds
Dressing cooked beetroots with yoghurt is very common in Iran. People usually chop up the beets and fold them into yoghurt. As simple as that! But I think a dish, whatever it is, must be pleasing to the eye, too. So I sometimes go out of my way to “dress up” simple dishes like beets in yoghurt even if takes a bit of extra time. A prettier salad always tastes better to me!
I used cooked beets for this salad. We get nicely cooked beets in supermarkets here in the UK. In Iran too we got cooked beets but not in supermarkets. Sweetened cooked beets are sold by street vendors. In winter you are never too far away from a street vendor selling very large steaming syrup-glazed beets. Absolutely yummy!
You may want to cook your own if you grow beets in your garden or get nice ones from your grocer’s. Beets need a bit of time to cook properly but there is no fuss, really.
To cook your beets just cover them with water, bring to boil, lower the heat and let them simmer away until they are tender. Once they are cooked they slip out of their skins very easily. Cooking time can vary from 30 minutes to an hour or even longer depending on the size of your beets.
I usually reduce the juice in which the beets have been cooked with a touch of sugar until it is thick and a bit syrupy. Then I slice the beets and return them to the saucepan to glaze them.
Another good method for cooking beets is wrapping them individually in aluminium foil and popping them in the oven when you are baking, roasting or slow-roasting. Again, the cooking time will depend on the oven temperature and the size of the beets but there is no way you can go wrong with that. Give them time and they will cook perfectly.
To make the salad all you will need is a few cooked beets, a little thick yoghurt (like Greek or Greek-style), some pomegranate seeds and a few sprigs of mint.
Pomegranate seeds add flavour, crunch and visual impact and so does mint. To seed a pomegranate cut it in quarters and pull away the seeds from the white membrane. The seeds will come off quite easily if gently pushed or tugged in the right direction.
To assemble the salad arrange sliced beets in a serving dish. Mix the yoghurt (as much as you wish) with a few drops of beet juice and put in a squeezy bottle (I save ketchup bottles to use for this). Squeeze the yoghurt over the beet slices in a nice pattern. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top of the dressed beets and garnish with a sprig of mint or two and maybe a little shredded mint as well. Your pretty pink salad is ready. Enjoy!