Whole Roasted Beets With Mole Sauce 4.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Weeknight Vegetarian Feb 12, 2014

Besides the fabulous combination of beets and mole sauce, the brilliance of Tom Madrecki's recipe is in his way of treating the beets: Their skin stays on, and they're roasted, unwrapped, in a super-hot oven, so the sugars caramelize and the flavors concentrate. When you eat them with a knife and fork, the beets' crimson flesh looks beautiful next to the brown mole, which Madrecki makes with dried apricots in the winter (and fresh plums in the summer).

This makes about 2 1/2 cups of mole paste, about three times what you need for this recipe, but the paste stores well and can be used to make sauce to cover enchiladas, to drizzle in tacos or to coat shredded chicken or turkey.

Make Ahead: The beets can be roasted and refrigerated for up to 1 week; reheat in a 200-degree oven before serving. The mole paste can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months; defrost before cooking and thinning out to make the sauce.


Servings:
4

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 4 medium red beets (about the size of tennis balls), preferably with greens attached
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large dried chili peppers, such as ancho or pasilla
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted cashews, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots, plus more for garnish
  • 1 ripe plantain, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • Water
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (arils; optional)

Directions

Position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element or flame.

Arrange the tomatoes and onion on a small rimmed baking sheet; broil them until charred all over, turning them a time or two, 15 to 20 minutes. Scrape them into a food processor. Turn the oven temperature to 500 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Cut the greens from the beets and reserve the smallest ones for a garnish, saving the rest for another use. Trim off any small root tails from the beets, and trim off any remaining stem. Scrub the beets thoroughly under running water, using a small brush if needed to remove any trace amounts of dirt. Dry, transfer to the baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil, rubbing to coat them.

Roast until the beets are barely tender and a skewer pierces them with just a little resistance, an hour to 1 hour 45 minutes, depending on the size and age of the beets.

While the beets are roasting, heat a large, dry skillet over high heat. Add the dried chilies and heat for just a few minutes on each side, until their flesh goes brown and turns pliable. Transfer them to a medium bowl and barely cover with water to rest for 30 minutes, then use tongs to remove the chilies. Strain and reserve the soaking water (for optional use).

Tear the chilies open; discard their stems and seeds, then transfer the remaining flesh to the food processor along with the tomatoes and onion, garlic, chipotle pepper, 1/2 cup cashews, 1/2 cup apricots, plantain and the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Puree to make a smooth mole paste.

To make the sauce, return the skillet you used for the chilies to medium heat and pour in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add 3/4 cup of the mole paste; cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the paste darkens slightly and thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Taste, and if the paste is sufficiently spicy, stir in water 1/4 cup at a time to create a thick but pourable, saucelike consistency. (If it’s not spicy enough, use some of the reserved chili-soaking water instead.) Taste again, and add salt if needed.

To serve, divide the beets among individual plates (nestling them on a bed of yellow rice or another grain, if desired). Pour the mole sauce over each beet. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds, if using, and cashews, dried apricots and reserved beet greens.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from a recipe by Tom Madrecki, who runs a private supper club in Clarendon called Chez Le Commis.

Tested by Joe Yonan.

E-mail questions to the Food Section.

E-mail questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.