This colorful dish reflects the themes within Torah portion Chayei Sarah.
This year, I decided to cook a recipe based on each week’s Torah portion as part of a project to better understand Jewish teachings on food and agriculture.
In Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23-25), Sarah is buried, and her son Isaac marries Rebekah.
I wanted to create a recipe that reflected the themes of life and death within the portion. So, I chose to use beets and shallots, which grow deep in the earth, and mushrooms, which grow in dark places. The finely chopped nuts symbolize the dust that we become when we return to the earth, and the beet greens represent life and growth.
4 golden beets, including greens
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 basket of mushrooms (I used a mixture of Hen of the Woods and King Oyster mushrooms)
1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Small handful of finely chopped dry roasted almonds (dust-like)
¼ pomegranate, seeded
1) Preheat oven to 400˚ F.
2) Cut off beet greens and save. Scrub beets. Wrap in foil and place on tray in oven. Roast until soft, approximately one hour. (Beets should be soft when a fork is inserted.)
3) Finely chop shallot and mushrooms. (Hen of the Woods mushrooms naturally break off into small pieces.) Over low heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan. Sauté shallots and mushrooms until soft, approximately 10 minutes.
4) In another pan, add ½ tablespoon olive oil. Over low heat, sauté beet greens until wilted. Add a tiny pinch of salt and a dash of pepper.
5) Remove beets from oven and let cool. Then, peel beet skins and chop. Fold beets and “dusty” ground almonds into mushroom mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6) Place on serving piece with beet-mushroom mixture on the bottom and “mold” into a mound. Place beet greens on top. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.
Sarah Newman writes Neesh Noosh: A Jewish Woman’s Year Long Journey to Find Faith in Food.