This raw-food salad is based off of a dish I had at a Middle Eastern restaurant on West Broadway many years ago. It’s excellent alone or as part of a larger survey of food, such as a composed salad plate. I have served this along with a French lentil-feta salad, pureed sweet potatoes with coconut milk, roasted peppers, vegetarian kibbeh, and fresh-baked pitas to positive reviews.
The key to this dish is in the cutting. It’s possible to mince the ingredients quickly in a food processor, but the texture won’t be the same, and texture is what makes this dish. You’ll need patience to make this right, so don’t bother with it unless you have the ability to focus for about a half hour — or already have strong knife skills. The cutting is technically a fine dice, almost a brunoise; you want tiny 1/4″ cubes, not an assortment of smallish shapes and sizes. If you can call on the assistance of a mandoline, by all means, do so here.
1 large red beet or several small beets
2 medium-sized tart apples, such as Granny Smith, Gravenstein, or Pippin
4 Tbsp. minced fresh mint leaves
Juice from 1 large or juicy lemon (3-4 Tbsp.)
Peel and core the apples, and put them in a bowl filled with cold water and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice to keep them from browning. Begin slicing and chopping the flesh into small cubes, aiming for size of a match-head. As the apples are diced, put them in a bowl with the remaining lemon juice and toss to incorporate the juice and fruit with each addition.
Trim and peel the beets, and begin slicing and chopping the flesh into match-head sized cubes. Put the beets in a separate bowl as you chop. You are aiming for an equal ratio of beets-to-apple here, so use your judgment in deciding when to stop work.
With a mesh strainer, drain extra juice from the apples. Add the drained apples to the bowl with the beets along with the mint and toss.