Use any combo of beets you like for this obsession-worthy vegan gluten free side dish or main course.
Beet and Fennel Gratin with Mint-Coconut Cream Sauce
- Avocado, grapeseed, or virgin coconut oil
- 1/4 cup shallots, diced or sliced
- 1 (13.5-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
- 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews or sunflower seeds, soaked for 4 to 6 hours and rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Kosher salt or fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
- 5 small golden beets, ends trimmed
- 1 large fennel bulb with fronds
- 1 small red beet, ends trimmed
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 10- to 12-inch cast-iron or ovenproof skillet with oil.
In a blender, blend the shallots, coconut milk, soaked cashews, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few grindings of pepper until silky smooth. Fold in the chopped mint. Set aside.
Using a mandoline, slice the golden beets into ultrathin round slices (the thickness of a dime) into a bowl. Into another bowl, slice the fennel bulb the same way and add a small handful of fennel fronds. Reserve a few fronds for garnish. Into a third bowl, slice the red beet the same way.
To each bowl, add 1 tablespoon oil, 1 pinch of salt, and a grinding of pepper. Massage the oil into the slices until all are coated with oil and seasoning.
Pour 1/4 cup of the coconut milk mixture into the bottom of the prepared skillet and swirl to coat. Fill the skillet with the beet slices in a tight, overlapping spiral pattern with a small handful of fennel strips tucked between each slice. Drizzle on the remaining coconut milk mixture and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a grinding of pepper.
Bake until the beets are softened, but not mushy, about 55 minutes. Taste a beet slice; if it’s too firm, cook 10 minutes longer. Let rest for 10 minutes. Garnish with fennel fronds, chopped mint, and a sprinkle of salt and serve warm.
Photography Heather Crosby