My birthday happened at the beginning of the month. I hosted a big seafood feast. I wanted a bunch of my favorite people together at a table and a ton of seafood – Dungeness crab, oysters, a big stew with mussels and clams and fish, etc. As these things go, I had an overly grand vision whose execution kinda knocked the wind out of me. Sunday arrived, people began to show up, and for as much time as I had spent prepping dishes in advance, most of it remained uncooked. So the kitchen is where most of the party happened. Everyone offered to help, and it was a happy chaos of chopping and maneuvering and questions and multitasking and champagne-drinking and oyster-shucking and stew-making. This seems to be how parties go when I host them. I construct laughably ambitious plans. I do not pull them off before people show up. We end up in the kitchen.
This dip was supposed to be an appetizer at the party. The beets had already been roasted. But they were hiding out in the fridge and amidst the commotion in the kitchen, I completely forgot about it. So it goes. This was inspired by a dish that I had at Linger in Denver while hangin’ with Kelsey. They garnished theirs with dill and pistachios and feta and I followed their lead. I love how bold the magenta color is, and how quiet the beet flavor is in the end result. I’m all about exploiting beets for their color. And it’s amazing what just a half teaspoon of smoked paprika will do to a dish. It felt like something was missing until I added it. If you don’t have smoked paprika, this would be a wise moment to invest in some. Makes a world of difference.
Serves 4 to 6
3 small beets, about 1/2 pound
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoon tahini
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 – 1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon chile flakes
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped dill
French Feta, for serving
Crackers, for serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse the beets. Pierce them a few times with a fork, place in a small, greased baking dish, and cover with aluminum foil.
Roast until tender, about 45 to 60 minutes. Set aside to cool.
While the beets roast, add the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, pressed garlic, sea salt, paprika and chile flakes to the bowl of a food processor. Don’t combine yet. Set aside.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them. Dice the beets and add to the food processor.
Puree until a smooth (or chunky, if you prefer) puree forms. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to thin. (I didn’t.)
Serve in a wide, shallow bowl, garnished with the pistachios and dill.