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Pureed Beets with Yogurt and Za’atar

Serves: Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • Scant 2 lb/900g medium beets (about 1 lb/500g in total after cooking and peeling)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 small red chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • Rounded 1 cup/250g Greek yogurt
  • 1½ tbsp. date syrup
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish the dish
  • 1 tbsp za’atar
  • Salt
  • To Garnish:
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp/15g toasted hazelnuts, coarsely crushed
  • 2 oz/60g soft goat’s milk cheese, crumbled


Procedures:

The beet is one of very few vegetables with a strong presence in the cuisine of almost every group in Jerusalem: it color pickling juices on the Arab table and is used in most meze selections; it is base for Ashkenazic borscht and hamitsa, a refreshing cold version of the soup; and it forms the basis for another soup, of Iraqi Jewish and Kurdish origin, where the famous semolina kubbeh is served.

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

Wash the beets and place in a roasting pan. Put them in the oven and cook, uncovered, until a knife slides easily into the center, about 1 hour. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel the beets and cut each one into about 6 pieces. Allow to cool down.

Place the beets, garlic, chile, and yogurt in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in the date syrup, olive oil, za’atar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Taste and add more salt if you like.

Transfer the mixture to a flat serving plate and use the back of a spoon to spread it around the plate. Scatter the green onions, hazelnuts, and cheese on top and finally drizzle with a bit of oil. Serve at room temperature.

Reprinted with permission from Jerusalem copyright © 2012 by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Photography copyright © 2012 by Jonathan Lovekin. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

by Jerusalem

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