Beets. Messy but delicious. I love eating but surprisingly, dread preparing. Inevitably red beet juice runs down my white cutting board and stains everything in sight. Yet, I promise to persevere as I love the flavor…and with high levels of folate, manganese, potassium and fiber, beets are one of the healthiest root vegetables one can eat. With summer upon us and with an abundance of beets arriving to Feast! from local farmers markets, I am constantly thinking…. How can I be creative? I have cooked many a beet soups (cold and hot!) and created numerous salads…but what more?
For Christmas my mom gave me a recipe calendar- every day brings a new dish. The May 7th card (to be exact!) gave a recipe for beet, chickpea and almond dip. I remember thinking in the early morning hours before my walk to work that this could be a perfect addition to a café special. Well, last week I pulled the card and created this special. As luck may have it, every ingredient we carry at Feast! Garbanzo beans, silvered almonds, olive oil, garlic, red wine vinegar and most importantly…beets! Simple ingredients and simple preparation….I combined, pureed and adjusted seasoning…and to my always delight, the vibrant pink color of the beets was ever present in the spread. The next step came in figuring out how to use the spread…a wrap! Yes! Beets always pair very well with goat cheese…Perfect! And how about local arugula….why not?! And maybe local cucumbers and roasted red peppers…ideal! Sliced chicken for the protein…a creative special crafted…and how it was delicious.
Beet soup is tasty, beet salad is yummy and beet dip with garbanzo beans and almonds… who knew? We had a small amount left over and the following day I added the combination to a soup, adding wonderful flavor. In fact, the true recipe calls for brushing pita breads with olive oil and baking in the oven until brown to be served alongside. An alternative appetizer for a summer dinner party-one that could wow guests with the beautiful nature of the color.
Beet, Chickpea and Almond dip (makes about 2 cups) Adapted from Mark Bittman
1 large (8 oz) beet, peeled, cut into ¾ inch cubes.
1 cup drained canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup silvered almonds
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 ½ tbsp. (or more) red wine vinegar
Cook beet cubes in medium saucepan of boiling salted water (add a splash of red wine vinegar to the water to add color to the beets). Drain. Place in food processor. Add garbanzo beans, ¾ cup olive oil, almonds and garlic. Blend until smooth. Add 1 ½ tbsp. red wine vinegar and blend well. Season to taste with salt, pepper and additional vinegar if desired. Transfer dip to serving bowl. Serve with pita chips… or create a Feast! Café special by first spreading goat cheese on a wrap, add beet spread, arugula, cucumber, roasted red peppers and sliced chicken (or for a total vegetarian option, omit the chicken!).