We have a great Middle Eastern grocery a few miles north of our house in Seattle, and given that my boyfriend Sam is Lebanese, we visit often to stock up on chickpeas, good feta and tahini — the latter being the one non-negotiable; we're always stocked with tahini. And this recipe was born, really, from a few leftover beets and a love of tahini. That's all you need.
If you've made homemade hummus, you know it's essentially a mixture of chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic. Some people add additional spices, but those are the basic components. This dip is very similar, but instead of chickpeas, I used roasted beets and the result is a pretty, vibrant dip that practically invites you over to sit at its side of the table.
This recipe is super creamy and light, yet it still feels decadent and rich thanks to the generous amount of tahini — I know it seems to call for quite a bit of tahini, but don't skimp! It really is all the better with a very generous glug.
As for serving, we usually eat this as an appetizer with pita or crackers, but it can also be nudged toward a light main dish, too. Last night we had some leftover chickpeas and quinoa in the fridge, and I made an impromptu grain salad using those two leftovers along with a handful of spinach and a big dollop of this beet dip. It was pretty wonderful on an unusually hot spring night here in Seattle.
Regardless of how you serve it at home, it's certainly nice to have something different to make in the appetizer realm of things — the same old dips and hummus sometimes need a fresh twist, and this recipe takes all of five minutes to blend together (once you've roasted the beets, that is). Plus, let's face it: it's a real stunner and friends who wind up asking for the recipe are always blown away that it's so simple.
Creamy Beet and Tahini Dip
Makes about 1 1/4 cups
medium beets (3/4 pound), washed and trimmed
small garlic cloves, quartered
sour cream (see Recipe Note)
Olive oil, to serve (optional)
Pita or crackers, to serve
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the beets on top of a large sheet of aluminum foil and fold the edges over to create a pouch (the beets should be completely enclosed in foil). Lay pouch on top of a baking sheet to avoid any dripping onto the bottom of the oven and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool.
→ For step-by-step instructions on roasting beets, see this tutorial.
Once cool, slough away the beet skins with your fingers (or a paper towel) and discard. Cut beets into wedges and transfer to a food processor. Add the garlic, tahini, sour cream, lemon juice, salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper and process until smooth. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Scoop into a small serving bowl. Drizzle a spoonful or two of olive oil over the top of the dip if desired. Serve with pita, crackers or wedges of crusty bread. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
I've tried making this dip with both sour cream and yogurt, and it's great either way. So if you're looking to make it lower in fat, try your favorite low or non-fat plain yogurt instead of the sour cream.
Related: Five Ways to Eat: Beets
(Images: Megan Gordon)