Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Beetroots Are For Grownups

Sumac Beetroot Dip

Children are probably the fussiest creatures on earth. I know this because I was one of those fussy children. Children are one of the greatest sources of irrational aversions and predilections. Their fancies are capricious and their whims illogical. For example when I was young, I refused to eat anything green and would only drink milk if it was flavoured with chocolate. I also demanded that the crusts be sliced off my sandwiches, as that they were too dry and my rice had to be shaped into a dome before serving. I hated onions because I disliked the crunch I heard once they were in my mouth. I hated celery because it ‘smelt funny’ and I hated beetroot because, well because it was beetroot, I just didn’t like them.

Beets are just one of those vegetables that are not forthcoming to children. The sight of beetroot on a youngster’s dinner plate is sure to be met with whines of disapproval. I have yet to meet an adult that liked their beets as a kid, most say they had a strong disdain for them. For one, they are a vegetable; which when you are five is a misdemeanour in itself. Secondly they have a rather bothersome habit of staining everything they come in contact with a deathly crimson. Evident, when one finds its way into your burger after you meticulously articulate that you don’t want beetroot in your burger. (Yes, Australians have beetroot in their burgers.) And thirdly, no parent back then ever knew how to cook beets. They were either that terrible canned variety that looked like they were extracted from a cadaver during a botched autopsy, or they were terribly bland and undercooked and required a hacksaw to slice in half.

These experiences are probably only common to me and other members of my family that were subjected to cruel misfortunes in badly cooked beetroot. My experiences with beetroot as a child were unpleasant to the point that I was actually repulsed by them for some time. Those days have now passed and awful tasting beetroot is but a memory, all has been forgiven and fortunately I have come to be quite fond of beetroot.

Aside from being a great source of Vitamin C and folate, beets actually rank as one of the sweetest vegetables; out-sugaring carrots, onions and corn in actual sugar content
*. And as one who is a devotee of all things sugar, the least I could do was to embrace the humble beet and welcome it to the gamut of vegetables that I already consume.

A cunning way of converting those opposed to beets into ardent disciples of the stuff is to make a dip out of them. Dips, I believe are a great way to introduce people to certain flavours they are not previously accustomed to. They are non-confrontational and are usually accompanied by festive and celebratory connotations. I have never heard of anyone saying, “I’m having a party why don’t you bring some beets?” But I have heard of people saying, “I’m having a party, why don’t you bring some dips!”

Here is a simple recipe for Sumac Beetroot Dip, it is basic beetroot dip seasoned with a dash of sumac; a Middle Eastern spice harvested from the outer flesh of crimson coloured sumac berries. The deep red spice adds a touch of fruity tanginess to the dip.

Sumac Beetroot Dip

(makes approximately 2 cups)

Sumac Beetroot Dip

5-6 medium sized beets

2-3 eschalots
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp currants or sultanas
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sumac
2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
sea salt, to taste
lemon juice (optional)

Roast beets and eschalots in an oven at 190°C for 40 minutes or until the beets are cooked.
Remove tray and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Peel skin from beetroot and eschalots and dice into small pieces.
Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until incorporated.
Squeeze some lemon juice on top (optional).


Bonnie said...

I'll put my hands up to liking beets as a child... but then.. I liked brussel sprouts as well. I think I was abnormal.

wheresmymind said...

I was ok with beets when I was younger...though my Mom made the super gross canned beets! lol

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I was one of those weird kids that loved beetroots. This was partly (mainly?) because my folks had a special beetroot pickle fork, which I LOVED using - so beetroot wasn't just about the taste.

Since being in Australia I've discovered the joys of beetroot in burgers and sandwiches and now beetroot is one of my favourite ingredients. My favourite cake to make is chocolate and beetroot; my favourite curry is beetroot and tomato; for our last dinner party I made beetroot and goat's cheese tart. Are you spotting a pattern? Some would say I was obsessed, I just think I'm . . . enthusiastic.

So THANK YOU for a new beetroot recipe.

Anonymous said...

After working in a small city cafe for awhile and having to juice one wrinkled beetroot after another for our patrons, by the time I left I detest the little buggers...

After reading this, well, perhaps it's time I gave them another try?

Deborah Eley De Bono said...

This looks great and I actually know what sumac is. Beets are so full of the good things and roasting them just let it all out.

miss cupcake said...

Hi Jen,

I hated them too, maybe it was the bland and mushy texture of tinned beetroots used in the Aussie burgers.

I now love them roasted in a winter salad; and most of the time, I make a chocolate beetroot cake. The recipe is different from most which use cooked beetroot and cocoa powder. Mine is from the National Trust Archive (I can send it to you/easily googled). It uses raw beet(more nutrients)and real dark chocolate (antioxidants) - a real vitamin packed "health food" in my book and I feel virtuous eating a piece or two or three...
p.s. I also make a light fromage blanc & lime icing on top to give it a lift.

cupcake in BA

dumoria said...

I absolutely loved beetroot when I was a kid. We used to have it often at the school canteen. The food served there was delicious; it made us love a lot of dishes that kids don't usually like to eat and healthy at the same time.

I still eat it today, every now and then, as a snack. It comes in little glass jars here. They were much better a few years ago, though: companies now add starch to the juice/liquid the slices float in. It makes the whole thing a little gross lol.

Unknown said...

how interesting.. i must confess that i'm no beetroot fan but your post has definitely stirred my interest.. by the way, I initially thought the pic was raspberries or strawberries jam on top of toasts.. really nice shot!

Anonymous said...

here i am, you're one freakish adult that ADORED beets as a child!
i grew up on my grandmothers pickled red beet eggs (a specialty of the Pennsylvania Dutch part of Pennsylvania where she grew up) and both hot and cold borschts which i also adored
i loved (and still do) both the flavors and the colors of beets
i will eat them at the drop of a hat
man i love beets!

geneve said...

This dip looks so beautiful - the color is amazing!
I have no experience with sumac - how would you describe the flavor?

Anonymous said...

Gracious, a red like no other - beautiful. I'd love to try this. I'm only recently coming around to beets.

cheffy90 said...

hey, i stumbled across your blog recently, while doing some random food blog browsing, and i love it! your pictures and recipes are so wonderful and mouthwatering...i've just added u to my blog list :P

Jen said...

Bonnie- definitely : ) All I can say is that your parents must have loved the fact you liked your vegies.

wheresmymind- there's way too many of those disgusting canned beets going around.

Kathryn- how interesting, I didn't know that pickled beets required its own fork, but I think a special fork still couldn't entice me to eat beets as a child.

Ellie- give them ago and see if you can still stomach them, but I can see why you are turned off them.

Mooncrazy- I think my favourite way of eating beets are roasted. And youre right it brings out its goodness.

Miss Cupcake- a Chocolate and Beetroot cake, that sounds very intriguing. I must give this a try. I will look for the recipe!

Dumoria- that bottled stuff sounds pretty gross. That's why I think fresh beets are the way to go.

eatzycath- thanks, I hope this will help you in giving beets a try

Ann- you are the rare ones like Bonnie who liked beets as a kid. That's great they are certainly one of the healthiest foods ever!

Geneve- sumac has a tangy taste a little like bit like lemon but also has a hint of sweetness. It's a whole different taste in itself and a must to try.

Tanna- me too, but im gald to have come around to liking them!

Reamika- thanks so much really appreciate it.

Alanna Kellogg said...

Just this morning I learned about beets & burgers (and can't wait to try them ... the weekend, perhaps?) and now here you are, tempting us with this. BTW I served these beets at a dinner w two kids and they loved 'em! This is definitely on the Make NOW list ... I've got everything, incl the beets and sumac on hand, except the Greek yogurt.

Joycelyn said...

hi jen, looks awesome! i love the flavour of beetroot, and this sumac-spiked dip sounds totally the sort that's so good you're tempted to just spoon it from bowl to mouth!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I have to confess, i didn't like beets as a kid, and although I eat more of them now...I'm still not convinced. I will have to try this dip! You are's just the right amount of "unthreatening" to have novices like me try :)

Beets in is beetroot and chocolate cake (which was mentioned here more than one)...I imagine it to be very moist...Mmmm :)

Jen said...

AK- sounds great, hope your kids will take to them.

J- yes the dip was certainly good enough to eat by itself. Always a good sign, especially when it comes to dips!

Joey- Australians are interesting in the way we use our beetroot. You have to give it a try.

Anonymous said...

This looks just great....Ive always been a 'beet fan' even as a kid (lots of borscht!!!) but I guess thats not the case usually.

Thanks for another wonderful recipe.

Huggs, G

kickpleat said...

mmm, i LOVE beets and always have! this look very delicious.

Anonymous said...

Too beautiful for words. Your writing is excellent too.

I was one of those kids [even adult] who demanded bread crusts be taken off my sandwiches too! Not only that, they have to be cut in to 4 triangles. Though i have recently accepted the crusts left on my sandwiches [only good crusts], i still prefer them cut in 4s. Somehow to me, they taste better that way.

I've always eaten my greens. What can i say? I was a 'good' girl. :-)

I'm not one to go out and buy beetroots mainly because the processed ones always look ghastly. But your Sumac Beetroot Dip looks so elegant that i may have to try it. Heres the 'but'... I don't know where i can find that sumac!

Anonymous said...

Oh I'm going to love this - thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I had such a hard time reading your beetroot post! I`m always blown away when parents cater to their kids fussiness to that extent...Veggies were never a punishment at our house (nor were any other foods), but then my Mom and Grandma made things from scratch, and it was always I never understood why people are so unwilling to try different foods. I ate pickled beets and LOVED them. There are so many ways to prepare beets, the list is (almost) fact I just finished 1.5L of barszcz last night... Love your posts, and photos, great job.

Pille said...

I'm a huge fan of beetroot, though I cannot remember whether i liked them or not as a kid. Pairing beetroot with sumac sounds like a great idea - thank you for sharing it!!