Lamb or beef can be used to fill the insides of these richly colored and flavored vegetables. This dish is good for a weeknight meal during Passover; it can be made several days in advance, covered and refrigerated.
Buy beets with nice-looking greens attached, as the greens are used in the filling. Before cutting the beets, protect the cutting board with plastic wrap and don gloves for easier cleanup.
The recipe calls for tamarind paste, which can be found in Indian, Latin, Asian and Middle Eastern markets as well as the international aisle of larger grocery stores.
- 4 medium beets with their greens, peeled and trimmed flat on tops and bottoms; reserve beet greens and stems
- 1 1/2 to 2 large onion, finely grated (about 3 cups; if using a food processor, squeeze out excess liquid)
- 1 pound lean ground sirloin or lamb
- 4 tablespoons matzo meal
- 1/2 small red thai pepper, unseeded and cut crosswise into thin slices (about 1 tablespoon; optional)
- 4 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken broth
- 4 heaping tablespoons tamarind paste
- Juice from 1 1/2 large lemons (less than 1/3 cup)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 13 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and trimmed flat on the tops and bottoms
Wash the greens from 3 of the beets and cut them away from the stems; reserve the stems. Boil the greens for 2 minutes in a medium saucepan of lightly salted boiling water over high heat; then drain and pat dry.
Cut the stems into small pieces and set aside. Coarsely chop the greens and place in a large mixing bowl, along with the onions, the (uncooked) ground meat, matzo meal, red pepper, if desired, and the garlic, to form a filling. Taste and add salt as needed.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the reserved stems and cook for a few minutes until they have softened. Add the chicken broth, tamarind paste, lemon juice and honey, stirring to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary; it should be well salted.
Meanwhile, use a melon baller to scoop out the insides of the potatoes and beets to create openings large enough to fill with a few tablespoons of the meat stuffing; reserve the potato and beet bits. Arrange the scooped-out potatoes and beets so that they fit snugly in a large skillet. Fill in any gaps with the bits that were scooped out.
Spoon the filling into the potato and beet cavities, creating generous mounds (the meat shrinks during cooking); place any remaining filling around the skillet. Spoon all of the sauce over the filled potatoes and beets. Place the skillet over medium-high heat just until the sauce comes to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover tightly with aluminum foil and then a lid, and cook for 1 1/2 hours, basting with the sauce every 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Serve hot.
From Washington caterer Vered Guttman.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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