Newton at the Farmers' Market: Salt-and-Coffee Roasted Beets and Beet and Avocado Salad

The salt-crusted method of roasting is kind of a combination between a recipe and a science experiment. It is basically like creating a clay oven around your beets, and this version with coffee grounds adds flavor as well as a baking medium.

Throughout the summer and early fall, I will be spotlighting various merchants at the Tuesday Farmers' Market and Friday Market and sharing recipes prepared with their produce and products.

Merchant: El Recreo Estate Coffee, Dedham, MA/Jinotega, Nicaragua

What they sell: “City Roast,” a medium-bold coffee, both in whole beans and ground.

About the farm: Hector and Miriam Morales are the US distributors/marketers for the coffee from Miriam’s family farm in Nicaragua. The 364-acre coffee farm has been in operation by her family for 30 years and is the year-round home to 20 families who work on the farm. El Recreo has on its premises a School of Technical Training as well as a school for the children of the workers and a health center for the workers and their families. The slogan for El Recreo is “High quality with social responsibility,” and they are proud to be a Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee grower.


Merchant: Soluna Garden Farm, Winchester, MA

What they sell: Flavored salts, flavored peppers, spice blends, herb blends, spice rubs, teas, and gift boxes and sets. They also have CSAs (community supported agriculture) for flowers and herbs.

Coming soon: Mulling spices (for cider and wine) and herb dipping blends (to mix with olive oil and dip bread in).

What they say: “The Newton Farmers’ Market has a beautiful location and a wonderful mix of vendors, (to prepare) a casual or a fancy dinner. And the people are very interested in learning where their food comes from. Everyone is very curious and engaged!” – Tatiana Brainerd (co-owner with Amy Hirschfeld, whose family has had the land the farm is on for over 30 years)


Coffee-and-Salt-Crusted Roasted Beets

Here is a fun, tasty recipe that makes use of your used coffee grounds. Please note that a coarser, non-espresso grind is likely to work better; the coffee will impart a subtle earthy flavor to the roasted beets. This recipe was inspired by the Ideas in Food blog.


  • 3 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ cups of used coffee grounds (the stronger the coffee, the better)
  • 4 ½ cups of kosher salt
  • 6 small-to-medium beets (I used both baby reds and Chioggia, or candy cane)


  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Cut greens off of beets, leaving a small “topknot.” Wash beets thoroughly, leaving skin intact, and dry completely.
  3. Mix egg whites, coffee grounds and salt until it resembles wet sand.
  4. In a 9-by-13 in. casserole or baking dish (glass or ceramic works best), put down enough of the sandy mixture to cover the bottom about ¼ inch deep.
  5. Place the cleaned beets on top of this layer, stem side up, and not touching each other.
  6. Pour the remaining sandy mixture around the beets and gently mound it so that each beet is completely covered, except for its topknot.
  7. Bake for 1-¼ hours or until the tip of a sharp knife can be pushed through the crust and goes easily into the beet.
  8. To remove beets, use a (dull) table knife and crack the crust around each beet. Gently insert the knife around the edges until the beet can break free. Repeat with all the beets.
  9. Let beets cool slightly before handling, and then dust off remaining sandy mixture
  10. To peel the beets, put on kitchen gloves and rub your hands gently around each beet. The skin should peel off fairly easily, but if it doesn’t you can use a table knife to help it along.
  11. Allow beets to cool completely before using in salad (see below); they may be refrigerated for 3-4 days.

NOTE: to clean the crust out of your baking dish, soak in warm water.


Roasted Beet and Avocado Salad with Mustard-Herb Vinaigrette and Toasted Hazelnuts

(serves 6 as a starter)

The buttery flavor of the avocado and the bitterness of the arugula work perfectly with the earthiness of the roasted beets and the smoky crunch of the hazelnuts. The vinaigrette adds a nice brightness to this salad, inspired by a recipe from Sunset Magazine.


  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon coarse Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (I used Matcha salt from Soluna Garden)
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper (I used garlic pepper from Soluna)
  • 1 teaspoon herb blend (I used Italian herb blend from Soluna)
  • 6 small-to-medium roasted beets, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 medium ripe avocados, pitted and sliced
  • 3 cups of arugula
  • 1/3 cup roasted hazelnuts, lightly crushed


  1. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar and mustard until emulsified.
  2. Add salt, pepper and herb blend and mix well.
  3. Put ½ cup of arugula in each of 6 bowls or plates and drizzle with a little of the dressing.
  4. Decoratively place beet and avocado slices on top of arugula and drizzle with remaining dressing.
  5. Sprinkle crushed, toasted hazelnuts on top and serve.


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