Dips and Nibbles

The Spread

The Spread

A good friend came to town this past weekend, visiting from Seattle.  The plan for Saturday night was to make a huge spread and enjoy!  We made fresh goat cheese, pureed beets, warm Brussels sprout salad and bagna cauda (anchovies, cream, garlic oh my).  I won’t overwhelm you with all the recipes right now so we’ll start with the beets.

I got the recipe out of my current favorite cookbook Jerusalem.  The photos are gorgeous and every time I flip through I pause at the picture of the bright purple-red beet puree.  Luckily my friend is also a fan of the earthy beet flavor so we decided to try the recipe.

Give just over two pounds of beets a good scrub and roast them whole at 400 degrees for about an hour.  You know they are done when a knife slides through easily and the skin begins to separate from the flesh.  Give them plenty of time to cool and peel away.  Put on gloves if you don’t want pink fingers!  I was able to just rub most of the skin off but a paring knife might be necessary in some spots.

Ready to Roast

Ready to Roast

After peeled- cut into 1/2 inch cubes and put in a food processor or high-powered blender with 2 cloves crushed garlic, one red chili (I had to use a serrano-which worked fine!) and one heaping cup of plain Greek yogurt.  Blend until smooth.

Time to add extra flavor.  Put the puree into a  mixing bowl and stir in 1 1/2 tbsp date syrup (I used a combination of maple and agave since I didn’t have date syrup on hand), 3 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp za’atar*.  Salt to taste.

Put in your serving bowl and top with 2 thinly sliced green onions, 2 tbsp chopped and toasted hazelnuts and 2 oz crumbled goat cheese.  Serve at room temperature with bread for dipping but you might just find yourself eating it by the spoonful!

Ready to Serve

Ready to Serve

 

I wish the picture wasn’t so dark, the color really was phenomenal.

 

*Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend that usually includes a combination of dried herbs (oregano, thyme, marjoram), toasted sesame seeds, sumac and a bit of salt.

 

Are you a fan of beets or do they taste too much like dirt?  What do you like to do with your beets?

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