Tuesday, February 16, 2010

and now for something completely different...with beets

Are you in a pancake stupor? I have an antidote for you: a light, piquant, but earthy-tasting dish featuring chopped beets, walnuts, and ground coriander seed.

Sounds different from the beet recipes you're used to seeing, right? (I guess that makes it...offbeet. Yeah. Sorry. I'm not giving up bad puns for Lent.) That's exactly why I clipped the recipe from an issue of Cooking Light a while back.

The original name, "Beets with Walnut-Garlic Sauce," is a little bit misleading--I didn't really get a sauce out of the walnut-garlic mixture, so I ended up turning it into a spread or maybe a hearty dip. The notes to the recipe say that this dish is made throughout the Balkans, Russia, and Turkey, and it would be a great addition to a mezze table.

I served it at a recent brunch-time playdate with two girls about Monkey's age and their families, and it was a big hit at least among the adults. (I also served this goat cheese, walnut, and date spread, which is dangerously tasty.) What you think of it will depend on how you feel about raw alliums. Personally, I am a delicate flower, with a palate to match, and even though I significantly cut the amount of onion called for I still found it very sharp at first. After a day or two it was much mellower, but still, I'll probably omit the onions next time. Raw garlic is enough for one dish.

Maybe if my guests are reading they can tell you if they really did love it as-is, or if they would have liked a little less onion. Or a lot less onion, actually. Or if they didn't like it at all and they were just being polite. (I hope it's not that last one! A food blogger would rather have honesty than politeness, I think.)

Anyway. Tread carefully.

I liked the beets on top of cream cheese on a bagel. I liked them even more in a sandwich--two slices of whole grain bread, toasted and spread thickly with cream cheese, then a generous layer of beets, a sliced hard-boiled egg, and some lettuce leaves.

Beet Spread with Walnuts and Garlic (Pkhali)

To roast beets, wash them, trim stems, and cut into roughly equal-sized chunks. Place on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan and toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at 425 F until tender, about 45 minutes (depending on the size of your chunks). Let cool and then remove skins.

1/4 C chopped onion (optional)
1/4 C walnuts, toasted
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3/4 tsp salt
Pinch to 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
1 garlic clove
3 C roasted beets

Combine first seven ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Roughly chop the roasted beets, add them to the food processor, and process until you have an even, finely chopped spread.


h. hart said...

that sandwich (and, ok, the spread too) looks incredible! Reminds me a bit of the hard boiled egg/beet/pickled onion/feta sandwich at salties--I will have to try it!

Unknown said...

WE loved it! The 2 adults, that is. Fran is straight up creme cheese. I'm so glad you posted the recipe for that and the goat cheese. Everything is better with goat cheese (...or is it bacon? oh who cares?)

Sarah said...

Victoria, I'm glad to hear it--I bumped this recipe up in my queue because I thought you folks were interested so I'm glad that was true. :-)

h. thanks for stopping by! But dang, for a moment there you had me thinking that Saltie's was some great Seattle restaurant I'd been missing out on. Ah well, perhaps I'll just have to make some pickled beets of my own. Hmmmm.....