Beet this for a dip
EAT IN:Hazelnuts appear with beetroot in a dip, and with chocolate in a dessert
The two dishes on these pages today may seem a bit incongruous and instead of trying to make some sort of tenuous link between beetroot and chocolate, all I have to say is that I’m conscious that sometimes when thinking of cooking something for a nice dinner, I end up doing something very traditional and not very “different”. Safe, in fact.
I am forced to cook new things for this column, but left to my own devices I am sure I would occasionally find myself stuck in a bit of a rut.
If you’re cooking for a group, do you try something new, or do you return to one of your old reliables? That’s why I have lumped these two dishes together: it’s easier and safer to try new things that can be used as a starter or dessert.
I am lazy about cooking beetroot as I always think there’s going to be too much work and staining involved, which is plain old silly. There isn’t, and if you can buy beetroots with the tops on, the tops are great washed, chopped and sautéed in olive oil with lots of garlic. I’ve made this recipe twice now; once with beetroot that I cooked from raw as per the recipe below, and once with cooked beetroot which came in a vac pack and doesn’t have any vinegar or any sort of pickling liquid. They are just cooked beetroot with nothing added to them. The dip ended up a bit wetter using the pre-cooked beetroot, but it was still lovely and very satisfying. However, it is better to cook the beetroots from scratch. The colour is gorgeous and this is one of those things – a bit like hummus – that is handy to have in the fridge to dunk things into.
I find 6pm is when hunger sets in, and if I’m still making dinner, then a spoonful of this dip – on a cracker or with a few bits of carrot – can quash those munching tendencies. If you can get kids to eat this, you’re doing well because beetroot is a rich source of B-complex vitamins and minerals such as iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium, as well as the very important potassium, which does all sorts of good things for your heart and metabolism.
The chocolate cake tastes a bit like a Nutella cake. It was nice and easy and the hazelnuts are very pleasing. I could say good things about hazelnuts, but it would be a bit disingenuous as they are in a cake with sugar and butter. So make a cake, enjoy a slice and rid your guilt by making this excellent beetroot dip, inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s new book, Jerusalem, which I am using a lot right now.