“Dip” is a funny word because, really, does it make you hungry? It connotes a drop in the road or a dippy person. It’s also kind of retro. “How about some chips and dip,” says a mom on a black-and-white TV show from the past, doesn’t matter which one. Oh: it also connotes chewing tobacco which my college roommate used to spit into a cup. He’d leave the cup around our dorm room and every so often I’d glance into it and want to puke. So dip, yeah. It’s not the sexiest food word.
But dip–as in a mixture of wet and dry ingredients for you to scoop up with chips or bread or carrots or whatever–is actually pretty wonderful. It just has a bad name. I dare you to put out homemade potato chips and a bowl of Ina Garten’s French Onion dip and NOT have it disappear in 14 seconds. It’s an impossible proposition.
Today’s dip is a bit healthier than that. It comes from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem and it’s basically roasted beets that you blend up with whole-fat yogurt, garlic and chile. Here it is before blending:
And here it is after:
As you can see, it produces a pretty vivid color.
A note on the roasting of the beets: Ottolenghi has you pop scrubbed beets directly into a hot oven in a roasting pan. No foil, no nothing. I found this process to be frustrating for a few reasons: 1. the beets took longer to cook; 2. the beet skin started to char and fuse with the bottom of my roasting pan; 3. the skins were harder to peel off than when you cook beets in foil packets. So, next time I make this dip, I’m doing the foil packet technique as demonstrated here.
Otherwise, the recipe’s really a cinch. Once blended, you stir in date syrup (which I found at the Indian supermarket across the street), olive oil, za’atar and salt.
Scoop into your serving bowl and top with green onions, toasted hazelnuts and crumbled goat’s cheese.
It’s a colorful and surprising way to start a meal with some bread or toasted pita. Just don’t spit it into a cup and leave it around your dorm room. That would be really weird.
Recipe: Beet Dip
Summary: From Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem.
- 1 pound of red beets
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 small red chile, seeded and finely chopped
- Rounded 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons date syrup (if you can’t find it, use maple syrup)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to finish the dish
- 1 tablespoon za’atar
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, coarsely crushed
- 2 ounces soft goat’s milk cheese, crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- If you want to roast the beets the Ottolenghi way, wash them and place in a roasting pan. Put into the oven and cook, uncovered, until a knife slides easily into the center, about an hour. Me? I’d put the beets in foil packets of 3 each, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, close them up and roast them on a cookie sheet for the same amount of time. I find that easier.
- When the beets are cool enough to handle, rub them with paper towels to remove the skins. Cut each beet into 6 pieces.
- Place the beets, garlic, chile and yogurt in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in the date syrup, olive oil, za’atar and salt to taste. (You’ll want to adjust it for sweetness and salt.)
- Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and scatter with the onions, hazelnuts, cheese and a final drizzle of olive oil. Serve with torn bread or pita bread.
Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 1 hour(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6