Beet Walnut Dip
Dipping can be a great way to introduce your kids to a food they are suspicious of. Partly it's because everything tastes good on a chip, and partly it's because dips are usually seductively salty and tangy and flavorful. This beet dip is stunningly beautiful and so rich and tangy and wonderful that I will eat and eat it until it is gone. The sherry vinegar is my favorite vinegar to liven up the flavor of anything with roots or nuts, and the beet dip has both; the vinegar is earthy and nutty itself -- just lovely -- and a little goes a long way.
Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 45 minutes
1 pound beets (4 smallish beets), scrubbed
1 cup walnuts
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
3 teaspoons sherry vinegar or lemon juice
a few fresh herb leaves, such as marjoram or thyme (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
- In a small pot of water, covered, over high heat, bring the beets to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer them until they're tender, 20-45 minutes, depending on their size. I stick a tiny knife in and call them done when I feel no resistance. Drain the beets in a colander, run cold water over them, then relieve them of their stems and skins, which should slip right off now.
- Meanwhile, toast the walnuts (a toaster oven is perfect for this) at 350ºF for five or so minutes until they smell toasty. Let them cool and, if you like, rub them in a dishtowel to remove more of their skins, which can be bitter. Or don't bother if you don't mind the flavor.
- In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, whir together the beets, walnuts, garlic, sherry vinegar, optional herbs, and salt, stopping to scraped down the side of the bowl every now and then, until the mixture looks like a coarse puree.
- With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, then whir in the yogurt.
- Taste the mixture for salt and tang, adding more salt or vinegar as needed, then mound in a bowl and serve with crackers, veggies, or pita chips.
The sherry vinegar gives the dip a hauntingly deep flavor -- a perfect echo of the walnuts -- but lemon juice is a good substitute; it makes a fresher-tasting and sharper dip. Brace yourself for how stunning this is.