Middle Eastern Beetroot Dip
I love the extraordinary magenta colour of this earthy dip; it’s just so startling and beautiful. But there’s a lot more than looks going on with it, as it’s scrumptious and healthy too. It’s lovely slathered onto chunks of warm pide or sourdough bread, or for an even lighter, fresher choice you can scoop it up with cucumber spears, thick fingers of fennel or witlof leaves.
Just one thing to keep in mind is that it’s best to start this well ahead, as the yoghurt needs to drain for at least 8 hours before you mix it with the beetroot.
- 500g thick Greek-style plain yoghurt
- 4 medium-size (about 100g each) beetroot
- 1 small clove garlic, very finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste
- A little caster sugar, to taste
- Sea salt, to taste
- tiny bush basil leaves or a baby beet leaves, to garnish
To serve: chunks of warm pide bread, or a mixture of green vegetables for dunking – lightly cooked asparagus, cucumber spears, spring onions, fennel strips and witlof leaves are all good.
At least 8 hours, or preferably the day before you make the dip, drain the yoghurt. To do this, sit a fine sieve over a bowl and line it with a double layer of muslin, leaving an overhang all around. Plop all but a tablespoon of the yoghurt into the sieve, fold in the overhanging muslin, cover it with plastic wrap, then sit the whole lot in the fridge to drain. Reserve the tablespoon of yoghurt for garnishing.
Preheat your oven to 180C.
Trim off any long, fine roots from the beets then cut off the leaves, leaving about 1cm of stalk attached. (If there are some lovely tiny leaves hang onto them for garnishing.) Wash and dry the beets then wrap each one tightly in foil and sit it on a baking tray.
Slide the tray into the oven, and cook the beetroot for about 1-1 ¼ hours until it’s tender. To check, slip a fine metal skewer into one; it should slide in easily. When the beetroot is ready, remove it from the oven and leave it to cool for about 15 minutes. Then unwrap the beets, rub off the skins with your hands and pull away the stalk end – it’s a good idea to wear prep gloves for this as they tend to turn your hands a rather extraordinary shade of pink! Leave them to cool, then grate them onto a plate using the coarsest side of a box grater.
Tip the drained yoghurt into a large bowl, discarding any liquid that has dripped from it (or drink it if you like, as it’s really light and refreshing.) Stir the garlic and lemon juice into the yoghurt, then mix in the grated beetroot and sugar and salt to taste. Chill the mixture, tightly covered, for about an hour to help the flavour develop.
When you’re ready to serve it, scoop the dip into a serving bowl and top it with a swirl of the reserved yoghurt. Garnish with a tiny beet leaf or two or some bush basil leaves. Serve with warm pide bread or veggies for dunking. Leftovers keep well for about five days in fridge.