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2000s Recipes + Menus

Smoked-Sable Tartare With Beets and Watercress

Serves8 (first course)
  • Active time:40 min
  • Start to finish:2 1/4 min
November 2008
Smoked sable is as moist as smoked salmon, but with a voluptuous silkiness all its own. To balance its sea-saltiness, top it with earthy roasted beets and fresh watercress. This festive salad makes a wonderfully light start to a lavish Thanksgiving feast.

Learn the story behind the Over the Top Thanksgiving menu in our series
The Recipe.
  • 3 medium beets (about 1 1/2 lb with greens)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lb sliced smoked sablefish (black cod), chopped (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 2 bunches watercress, torn into small sprigs (6 cups)
  • Equipment:

    heavy-duty foil; a 2 1/2-inch pastry ring or cookie cutter without a handle
  • Preheat oven to 450F with rack in middle.
  • Trim beets, discarding stems and greens (or reserve for another use), then wrap together in foil and roast until tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Let beets stand in foil at least 15 minutes, then remove from foil and cool. Remove skins and cut beets into 1/3-inch dice.
  • Whisk together shallots, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper, then whisk in oil. Reserve 2 Tbsp vinaigrette for watercress and toss remainder with beets. Let marinate at room temperature 30 minutes.

To Serve:

  • Drain beets in a sieve set over a bowl and set beet vinaigrette aside.
  • Put pastry ring in center of a salad plate and gently press about 2 1/2 Tbsp fish into bottom of ring, then put about 1/4 cup beets over fish. Repeat on 7 more plates.
  • Toss watercress with reserved 2 Tbsp vinaigrette and mound over beets (a small handful per plate). Drizzle a little beet vinaigrette around each plate.
Cooks’ notes:
  • Beets can be roasted and tossed with vinaigrette 1 day ahead, then chilled. Chill reserved vinaigrette separately. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.
  • Watercress sprigs can be prepared (but not tossed with vinaigrette).
  • We've also got a web-exclusive recipe using the leftover beet tops.