Oh, beets. How do I love thee. Let me count the ways…. Okay, so I am a little obsessed with beets (along with a million other foodies). I haven’t had them in a few months, but after a recent trip to Switzerland, my obsession swiftly returned. There is just something about slices of these bright red nutritionally packed treasures that cause people to either hate or love them. I am in the latter’s camp. But it is a HEALTHY obsession because beets, or bangar in Arabic, are high in folate, manganese, and potassium, and not to mention packed with protein and fiber.
Beet salads are very common in Morocco. The lowland in Morocco is extremely fertile, and beets, particularly sugar beets, are grown in abundance. Many salads coming out of Morocco have at least one element that is cooked, and it is common to serve salads warm. This particular salad was shared with me by our Moroccan babysitter in the United States. She used to cook it at home and bring it to us. She used to cut the potatoes and beets into perfectly small, bite-size squares, which I can never replicate. Also, this salad can last for a few days in the fridge, and it only gets better with time. I made it during Ramadan, and each day I couldn’t wait to break my fast because I knew I had my salatat bangar waiting for me! My children were a little skeptical of the beets, but they surprisingly really liked them. Something about the color, the texture, and probably the awesomeness of it that made them like it. Did I mention I like beets?
The most important element in this dish is the dressing. It is very common in the Middle Eastern to use fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and salt to dress salads. In this recipe, the delicious tang of the fresh lemon juice really brings out the flavor in the beets. (I have been known to pour Ranch dressing on my beets, but that is totally unnecessary!) I also used golden beets in this recipe, but you can use any color beet your heart desires. In the UAE, it is near impossible to find raw beets, let alone golden ones! You can also add shredded carrots for added color and nutrition. As for the potatoes, be sure to pick a potato that is low in starch, so that its shape is maintained. I prefer the tiny new potatoes that are sold in a package of 10.