za’atar spiced beet dip with goat cheese

purple lovely ::::

Back in September, Eat and I ran the Color Me Rad 5K in San Jose. I had high hopes of being spattered with colorful paints while darting around the green California terrain, running shoes like a rainbow by the end of the race. It was actually a somewhat disappointing race: not as well organized as we had hoped and it seemed more wild party of people not really interested in the running course and more interested in coloring up their friends before, during, and after the race. Eat and I were covered from head to toe by some of the paint sprays and chalk clouds of color from course volunteers: brightly colored blue chalk powder embedded in my hair and ears, yellow and green paint splattered across my shirt, and a few squirts of purple on exposed skin.

Even after three shampoos, I remained a blue hue on my face and parts of my hair. My snot was blue for three days. The q-tips did little to retrieve the blue dust in my ears. My hairbrush is forever dusted blue. Eat was a rainbow of colors on his previously white shirt. The purple chalk on his black hair gave him a gray look, almost a prediction of hair to come. Most of the color splashes on those other runners were result of self-coloring and from over-excited friends: the typical runner was teenaged or college-aged, in a group with at least one girl wearing very short shorts, and all of them giggling as they pelted each other with chalk powder, trying to out-color the next and hug the non-participants.

I would have preferred the more purposeful color slam of pink in a Diwali celebration. Thank God we didn’t bring the kids in the running stroller. They would have been scarred for life, wondering why running and coughing in clouds of chalk is any fun.

My rainbow today is much neater. And more organized. And requires less soap in the shower to clean off the messes (unless you are cooking with a pressure cooker and have some sort of volcanic eruption). You see, we are in the thick of a Northern California winter, frosty in the mornings, warming in the sun by mid morning, and the occasional activity-altering downpours of rain. But with these rains, it is almost unfathomable that the sun would NOT come out soon after, and grace us with the wonder of optical physics: full rainbows.

Roasting the beets warms up your cold kitchen and keeps you cozy as you eat this beet dip. It’s a definite winner, and tolerated by almost-out-of-the-morning-sickness-yuckiness people like me. And much better than purple chalk dust in my ears.

za'atar spiced beet dip with goat cheese recipe
Recipe type: appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
  • 325 g or about 11½ ounces of roasted beets (I'll tell you below how to roast them)
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used non-fat, but would have preferred at least 2%)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (the original recipe called for a little more, but I felt it was too much with the sweetness of the beets)
  • 1 tablespoon za'atar (Need a recipe? Check out my crisp flatbread with za'atar for a great one.)
  • salt
  • ¼ cup roasted walnuts, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled (Add plenty of goat cheese. It's great with the sweetness of the beets.)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • a few leaves of mint (optional -- it's pretty but I didn't like the flavor with the beets for some reason)
  • warm pita, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put the washed beets in a small roasting pan or loaf pan, add a little water, and cover tightly with foil. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until fork-tender. Allow to cool slightly before removing skin. After roasting, the skin should slip off easily.
  2. Cut beets into wedges and transfer to food processor. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and yogurt and pulse to blend. Add the olive oil, maple syrup, za'atar, and puree. Season with salt.
  3. Scrape into wide, shallow bowl. Scatter with nuts, goat cheese, and scallions (and mint, if using) on top. Serve with warm pita.




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