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Recipe: Beetroot Dip with Sheep’s Cheese and Toasted Walnuts

Recipe: 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 accentuated the sweetness of the root so its 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.

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 accentuated the sweetness of the root so its 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.

Ingredients:

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

To garnish:

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

Preparation:

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.

– Thomas Rees

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