Lox and bagels are another memory from the deli food of Landau's youth. This recipe has its origins in the loxlike "beautiful, translucent, and almost fatty shine and texture" of thin-sliced roasted golden beets, using the same techniques, such as smoking, salting, curing, and brining. Roasting on a bed of salt intensifies and complicates the sweet silkiness of the root vegetable. "We're not trying to fake it or say you'll never go back to lox. We're just playing with those flavors," he says. For vegan mayo, Landau recommends the Follow Your Heart brand, which makes a purist Original Vegenaise with a balanced tangy, creamy flavor, substituting soy for the eggs.
Salt-Roasted Golden Beets with Dill, Avocado, Capers, and Red Onion
(Serves 4 to 6)
• 2 cups coarse sea salt or kosher salt
• 5 lb golden beets, greens removed
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
• 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
• 1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded, chopped cucumber
• 3/4 cup vegan mayo
• 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh dill fronds
• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
• 1/4 cup capers, drained
• 1/4 cup finely diced red onions
Preheat the oven to 300° F.
Pour the coarse salt onto a sheet pan, coating the entire bottom of the pan evenly in a thick layer. Arrange the beets in a single layer on the salt. Roast until fork-tender, about 2 hours. The skins will become very dark, looking nearly burnt.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow the beets to cool on the salt bed. When cool to the touch, peel the beets by hand or by rubbing them with a towel. Slice them into rounds no more than 1/8 inch thick. A mandolin works best, or use a knife to slice them really thin.
Toss the beet slices in a large bowl with the oil, sherry vinegar, and 1 tsp of the pepper. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than 24 hours.
To prepare the sauce, combine the cucumber, vegan mayo, dill, mustard, salt, and remaining 1 tsp pepper in a food processor. Pulse until the cucumber has broken down into very small pieces and the sauce is thick and creamy.
Fan the sliced beets on a large platter or on individual plates. Garnish with the avocado, capers, red onions, and a spoonful of the cucumber sauce.