Turkey, a land of mezze – small plates to feed the soul. One such treasure is this vibrant salad/dip made from beetroot. It’s a dish with stand out – a triumph of flavour, texture and colour. It doesn’t get much tastier than this!
My Turkish Beetroot & Yoghurt Dip is a simple, delicious way to prepare this precious vegetable. Soft, creamy, sweet and earthy. Not to mention beautiful to look at! It's one of the best dip recipes in my repertoire.
It's a main stay on any Turkish Mezze plate - I ate copious amounts of this sweet, earthy dip in Istanbul - watching the World go by at many a restaurant. Once you take that first scoop with a flatbread, you'll drift into a beetroot trance only to suddenly come back to earth and wonder where the last 2 hours went, and where did all that Beetroot dip go to?
So why is it so delicious? Firstly, I love beetroot! The flavour, a sweet, earthy vegetable that's unlike any other. Force fed it as a child, I was never a fan - but I revisited this vegetable some time ago and happy I did. I can't get enough! Secondly, the combination of sweetness and light acid from the yoghurt is just phenomenal. Let's not forget about the colour. Beetroot will bring any dinner party spread to life with its shocking pink hues. It's a stunner.
Cooking with paint
If this dip (and beetroot in general) didn't leave my hands and kitchen in such a pink state I'd eat it for every meal. No matter what you do, or how ever many precautions you take - you'll end up looking like a toddler painting. I've actually given up trying to avoid the staining juice now - I always think I manages to find a way of leaving it's mark on something. I've lost count of the t-shirts and jeans it's given its unique batik effect to. Just embrace it.
Beetroot Dip - playing its part in a Turkish Mezze spread
In Turkey, and around the Middle East - dishes like this are served mezze style; lots of small plates served with flatbreads to aid in dipping, scooping and wrapping. A mezze spread can feature a two or three Turkish dips at its simplest, and as many dishes as you can feasibly stuff into your face at the other end of the scale. It's one of the best party dips while also being a great dish to have on a communal table alongside other mezze dishes - everybody gets as little or as much of the things they like the best - and get to try the things they've never tried. That sounds like the perfect dining experience, right?
Preheat oven to 200ºC. Trim the stalks and wrap each beetroot in foil separately - skin on. And place on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the beets are soft through (pierce with a sharp knife). Unwrap the foil and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Cover your hands in a plastic bag, or wear rubber gloves and peel the beetroot. The skin should come away very easily.
Chop roughly and place in a food processor, along with all the other ingredients. Blend for 1-2 minutes until very smooth.
Spoon into a bowl and sprinkle with the herbs and serve with lots of Middle Eastern flatbreads to dip. It's also a great partner to my Turkish Lamb Kebabs.
Sprinkle this salad with a little feta cheese for a perfect salty counterbalance to the sweet, earthy beetroot.Dollop a little of this dip over a platter of peppery rocket leaves and top with some lightly roasted walnuts or pine nuts for a simple, flavoursome salad.