I love this recipe for traveling because I can marinate the beets ahead of time and they hold up well. You can then bring along accompaniments on the side, that add new elements, like crunch, and add them to make the final dish later. In this recipe I use harissa, a North African chile paste made from sun-dried chiles. I like to use it because it has an approachable chile flavor without all the heat.
Scrub the beets to remove any residual dirt and trim the tops and tails but leave the skin on. Cut in half and place in a medium pot, then add water to cover by at least 1 inch. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer the beets until fully tender, testing by piercing to the center of the largest beet with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the beets, and while they are still warm to the touch, use your not-favorite kitchen towel to rub off the skins. Cut the beets into wedges, taking care to keep the like-colored beets together, but separate from the other colors.
Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard and honey in a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk again to combine. Add the Pickled Shallots and the beets and marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
Dollop spoonfuls of the Charred Onion Crema on the bottom of a serving platter. Top with the beets, herbs and Harissa Breadcrumbs.
Cut the shallot into 1/8-inch rings and place in a medium metal bowl. Separate the layered rings with your fingers and try to keep the rings as whole as possible.
Combine the apple cider vinegar, beet juice, sugar, salt and a few turns of pepper in a small pot. Whisk the mixture and bring to a boil over high heat. Whisk one more time to make sure everything is fully combined. Remove the pot from the heat and pour over the prepared shallot rings. Stir the rings to make sure they are fully covered. Allow the shallots to cool naturally, 20 to 30 minutes.
Charred Onion Crema:
Cut the onion into 1/2-inch slices or wheels. Place the onion wheels in a dry cast-iron pan set over medium heat. Allow the onions to char deeply on one side, 10 to 15 minutes, then flip them over and char the other side, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the onions to cool slightly.
Place the onions in the bowl of a high-powered blender and pulse a few times to break them up and release any remaining steam. Let the onions cool down for another few minutes, then add the crema to the blender. Blend the onions and crema, then season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Peel the outer crust off the boule. Cut the remaining bread into 1- to 2-inch cubes. Place the cubes in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you have small and consistent breadcrumbs.
Pour the olive oil into a medium saute pan set over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the harissa paste. Whisk in the harissa paste until it is dispersed throughout the oil.
Place the untoasted breadcrumbs in a large bowl and drizzle the garlic and harissa oil over the top, stirring and flipping the breadcrumbs to ensure even coverage.
Lay the coated crumbs on a sheet tray and bake until crispy and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the toasted crumbs and scrape onto a paper-towel lined sheet tray to drain any excess oil. Season with salt while the crumbs are still warm.
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