beet dip with za'atar and hazelnuts*
One of my great yet relatively stupid burdens in life is dealing with the unrelenting tide of beets flowing from my CSA basket. I love beets--looooove beets--but dealing with the sheer volume in my produce bins at all times is a struggle. When I'm truly out of ideas, I roast them and puree with a bit of water, then freeze the mix until inspiration (or the yearning for beet soup) strikes. Consequently, my freezer is...not empty.
Happily, one such period of temporary beet-loathing coincided with the arrival of the truly beautiful, sophisticated, inspiring Bistronomy cookbook. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, this book is a winner, chicken dinner style. Jane Sigal has put together a phenomenal collection of new wave French bistro food, with recipes by some of the most innovative chefs in Paris. I've made several utterly delicious things from it (future blog posts are forthcoming) but this recipe by Marion Graux of Clown Bar is the one that makes the biggest dent in Ye Olde Beet Mountain so it's the one I have made most often. The beets are an ideal vehicle for the bright, complex flavors of za'atar and sumac, and the whole thing is lifted up by a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of cayenne. It gives me hope that I'll beat these beets yet.
*One note--the above picture shows walnuts. I was doing a pantry clean-out and didn't have the energy to skin hazelnuts, so I punted. I didn't want to wait to share this, so lesson learned: always use hazelnuts.
beet dip with za'atar and hazelnuts...even though the pic shows walnuts
adapted from Bistronomy by Jane Sigal
serves 8 as an appetizer
- 4-5 small/medium beets, roasted and pureed with water
- 1 garlic clove, smashed with a mortar and pestle
- 2 T best quality EVOO, plus more for drizzling
- 3 Tbsp full fat yogurt (I use goat yogurt, but you can use Greek)
- 1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1 Tbsp za'atar, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- handful of toasted skinned hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- pita chips (I like Amy's whole grain) or thinly sliced and toasted sourdough for serving
If you do not already have pureed beets at hand, after roasting you can puree them in the food processor or a powerful blender along with the rest of the ingredients (minus garnishes). To roast beets, pack them in foil in a small dish and roast at 400' for about 45 minutes or until tender. Skin and carefully puree with enough water to make a thick liquid (usually about 1/2 cup). Do this in batches if your beets are still hot, or you can do it all at once if you leave them to cool until they're just warm to the touch. Then add the rest of the ingredients, pulsing to combine, seasoning to taste. Scrape into a wide, shallow serving bowl if serving all of it at once; I usually cut it in half and use a small salad plate for 2-4 people. Chill for an hour before serving, then just before serving, drizzle with olive oil, a sprinkling of za'atar, and the chopped hazelnuts. Serve immediately with pita chips or toasted bread.
If you already have your beets pureed and chilled (which I always do, re: Ye Olde Beet Mountain) pour the puree into a bowl large enough to mix in. Cut the garlic into 4-5 rough pieces, then pound the garlic with a mortar and pestle with a sprinkle of salt until smooth. Add to the puree, along with the rest of the ingredients, seasoning to taste. Scrape into a wide, shallow serving bowl if serving all of it at once; I usually cut it in half and use a small salad plate for 2-4 people. Drizzle with olive oil, a sprinkling of za'atar, and the chopped hazelnuts, and serve immediately with pita chips or toasted bread.