beetroot muhammara (beetroot walnut dip)
This magenta marvel is directly inspired by a recent trip I took to LA to visit my brother, and a sense-awakening experience at my new restaurant crush (or maybe obsession). After the sunshine-iest of meals, we bought this beet spread on a whim from the refrigerated section to pack for a picnic later that day. One spoonful (or three) later and I was smitten.
Muhammara is a dip traditionally made with red peppers and walnuts, hailing from Syria and often found in Levantine and Turkish cuisine. Botanica makes theirs with beets, which add an unexpected earthiness to the dip, a perfect foil for the richness of the walnuts and the sweet-sour sing-song of the lemon juice and pomegranate molasses. It is delicious, versatile, and positively intoxicating. You'll want to spread, dollop, dip, and swirl it over everything–grilled chicken, roasted veggies, cucumber slices, toasted bread, pita, seedy crackers, the list could go on and on...
• 12 oz. beets (about 3 large or 4 small), cooked until tender and cooled (see NOTE)
• 1/2 cup raw walnuts
• zest from 1 lemon
• 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 3/4 tsp. ground sumac
• 3/4 tsp. ground cumin
• 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
• Pinch of cayenne pepper
• Chopped parsley and walnuts for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400° F. Spread walnuts on a small baking sheet, and toast in the oven until lightly browned and very fragrant, 5-15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally and watching the walnuts closely so they don't burn. Allow to cool.
Add beets, cooled walnuts, and remaining ingredients to the bowl of a food processor or powerful blender, and blend on high speed until dip is smooth and silky. Taste and add a bit more cayenne for an extra kick. Swirl dip into a serving bowl, and sprinkle over the chopped parsley and walnuts, if desired. Dip keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days. Happy dipping!
NOTE: You can roast your beets whole, wrapped in foil, at 350° F for 45 minutes to an hour until they are tender and easily pierced with a fork. My go-to method in the hot summer months, however, is to cook them in a slow cooker. Simply toss whole beets with a drizzle of oil, add them to the slow cooker, and cook on low for 6-8 hours until soft.