In the first of series of simple, seasonal recipes, musician, cook and aspiring food writer Tom Rees serves up a dish good enough to win over the most hardened of beetroot critics.
Beetroot Dip with Sheep’s Cheese and Toasted Walnuts
In the past couple of years I’ve become a serious beetroot convert. I’m not talking about the pickled stuff in jars which I dreaded as a child, but about fresh roots with their wonderful earthy sweetness and autumnal aroma. Raw beetroot makes a superb accompaniment to beef, particularly when paired with celeriac and a vinaigrette thick with dijon mustard, and it is among my favourite additions to a green salad. It is equally delicious boiled or roasted, but this serves to accentuate the sweetness of the root, so it's even more important to pair it with something sharp or salty for contrast.
This recipe is based on an exquisite beetroot and feta dip I ate at Sam and Sam Clark’s tapas bar Morito about a year ago. The walnuts and the tangy sheep’s cheese in my version temper the sweetness of the beetroot, while the lemon juice and the parsley add freshness to the finished dish. Thickly spread onto slices of rye bread it’s a joy to eat, and somehow all the more enjoyable for the way it stains your mouth and your fingertips.
For the dip:
250g of beetroot
2 tbsp of natural yogurt
2 tsp of tahini
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g sheep’s cheese, thinly sliced. I’m using a local ewe’s milk cheese called Sarsden but any hard sheep’s cheese would do. Feta works similarly well.
25g of walnuts
A handful of parsley, roughly chopped
Wash the beetroots and boil them in their skins until tender. This can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on their size. Drain, and when cool enough to handle, top and tail them and rub off the skins (this is easiest done under running water).
Add the peeled roots to a blender along with all the other ingredients for the dip and blend until smooth. Season to taste and add a little more yogurt, tahini or lemon juice if you think it needs it. Spoon into a serving bowl.
Toast the walnuts in a dry pan to intensify their flavour then scatter them over the dip followed by the sheep’s cheese and the parsley. Serve with rye bread.
Now I'm not the biggest beetroot fan (I may have been known to compare it to a mouthful of soil), but Tom's delicious dip won me over. I hope you enjoy his recipe too.