Ember-Roasted Beets with Orange-Fennel Salsa

Recipe 20 minPreparation Time 1 hour and 5 minCooking Time
Ember-Roasted Beets with Orange-Fennel Salsa

Ember-Roasted Beets with Orange-Fennel Salsa

20 minPreparation Time 1 hour and 5 min Cooking Time

About this Recipe

This recipe is adapted from the cookbook 'Green Fire, Extraordinary Ways to Grill Fruits and Vegetables, from the Master of Live-Fire Cooking’. The author and chef Francis Mallman showed how the simplicity of licking flames and smoky embers with plants can result in delicious alchemy on our plates. Smoking vegetables, blistering fruits, and charring tubers using coals revealed diverse flavors that distinguished his cooking.  In this recipe he transforms humble beets into scorching goodness while roasting them on the embers of a campfire. The pairing of prehistoric cooking techniques with new textures and flavors shows off the primitive beauty of this recipe.

The Benefits

Roasted beets are rich in antioxidants such as betalains and vitamin C, which may help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic ailments. Beets are a good source of heart friendly nitrates that support brain health, and promote blood flow, which helps enhance athletic performance as well as overall cardiovascular health. Oranges are rich in vitamin C, which aids in the absorption of iron in the beets. A generous splash of extra virgin olive oil elevates the nutritional profile of this dish by improving absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and phytonutrients in oranges and beets. Fennel contains the bioactive quercetin, which helps fight oxidative cell damage, while its anti-viral properties may help with cough and cold symptoms.

Note: The chef suggests pairing this aromatic dish with an avocado and red onion salad and/or a fresh cabbage salad.


Serves 4-6
  • 6 (390 g) beets, scrubbed
  • 2 oranges
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • About 1/4 cup (5 g) dill, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (100 g) finely diced fennel bulb
  • 1 tsp (4 g) fennel seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt to taste


  1. Step 1
    Build a fire and let it burn down to embers or use charcoal in a grill. Wrap the beets in foil and roast in the embers for about 45 minutes, or until they’re tender all the way through when pierced with a sharp skewer.
  2. Step 2
    If cooking indoors, heat the oven to 375˚F/190˚C. Wrap each beet in foil and roast for an hour or more until they are tender when pierced all the way through with a skewer. The cooking time will depend on the freshness and maturity of the beet.
  3. Step 3
    Toast the fennel seeds in a dry skillet on the stove over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Or toast them in the oven for 7 minutes while the beets are cooking.
  4. Step 4
    Peel the oranges. Cut the segments out over a bowl, saving the juice. Tear the segments into small pieces, and add the dill, fennel, and toasted fennel seeds. Whisk in the olive oil, and season to taste with salt. Slice the beets, dress them with the salsa, and serve.

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Francis Mallmann

Francis Mallmann

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