SmartCooks here. It was a whirlwind week of cross-country flying on oversold/late planes (!) and meetings with close to 600 people -- in person and by teleconference and videoconference -- plus a rapid tour of the services for veterans at a military base.
This weekend ... back on ground zero ... offers a breather to chill with Za'atar-Spiced Beet Dip with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts.
It's the second time I've made this dip, and results from both trials are the same -- refreshing, unique, pleasing taste and low-fat dish if you use the hazelnuts and goat cheese in moderation.
The first time I made it with red beets and it turned out very close to the colour in pix at right (from Food and Wine).
The second time I made it with golden and Chioggia (or candycane, pix left) heirloom beets, resulting in a lighter coloured dish.
Za'atar-spiced beet dip can be used as a spread, as an appetizer with whole wheat crackers from a Smitten Kitchen recipe or even a light dinner with wholewheat pita.
A word about Za'atar
I've written about my discovery of and use of za'atar before on SmartCooks and once again encourage trying it. It's both a herb (known as the 'King of Herbs' in the Middle East) and a spice blend. The herb is rarely exported so in North America we tend to find a variation of the spices depending on the region (as in photo right).
It's a versatile spice blend that can be used in a variety of dishes -- from meats and rice to veggies, dips and breads. It can be bought mixed or try a variety of recipes for it, which typically involve thyme, marjoram, oregano, sumac and roasted sesame seeds.
Za'atar-Spiced Beet Dip with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts
6 medium beets, or about 1.5 lbs
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 small red chile, seeded and minced
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 0% fat)
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1.5 T pure maple syrup
1 T za'atar
1/4 cup roasted skinned hazelnuts, chopped
2 T goat cheese, crumbled
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Interesting bread, wholewheat pita, or crackers, for serving
Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Place beets in a roasting pan and add 1/4 cup of water, cover with foil and bake, until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly, peel, and cut beets into wedges, then transfer to a food processor.
Add garlic, chile and yogurt to food processor and pulse until blended. Add the olive oil, maple syrup, and za'atar and puree. Season with salt.
Scrape into a wide, shallow bowl. Scatter roasted hazelnuts, goal cheese and scallions on top and serve with bread, crackers or wholewheat pita.