Happy beetroot season everyone and if you are a beetroot fan, I have a treat for you today. Not a sweet one (although it does make luscious chocolate cake – see this recipe), but a treat all the same. This recipe is inspired by a traditional mezze dish from my 2 second adopted country of Greece, which after having lived there for 4 years, we tend to visit around this time of the year every year. Unfortunately, this year, due to the pandemic induced uncertainty, we have not been brave enough to book any flights yet and we miss that trip (and general travelling) a lot.
We are going up to the Lake District this weekend, to visit my friend and while we are looking forward to it immensely, it’s quite a different experience. Anyway, I miss Greece, I miss mezze by the sea and therefore I figured it’s time that I revisit this old recipe of mine and do it more justice this time round. παντζάρια με σκορδαλιά (pantzária me skordaliá) or beetroot with garlic sauce is one of those dishes we always used to order in our favourite taverna on Paros and it always delivered. Dolmadakia was another firm favourite. Skórdo (σκόρδο) simply means garlic in Greek and this dish is so simple yet so divine, it’s become my favourite way to consume beets now.
For the purists amongst you, let me point out that my version is an adaptation of the original. While many Greek tavernas use raw garlic cloves to make this dish, I find that (especially if you don’t have the time to make this dish in advance) it tends to render the dip a little harsh for some palates. My solution is to use oven roasted garlic cloves, which are much mellower and a couple of raw cloves immersed in lemon juice for a bit to take that harshness out. If you are like “give me all the garlic you’ve got, I live in constant fear of stumbling upon a bunch of hungry vampires on my way back from work”, please feel free to adjust this recipe to your preference. Finally, if you are allergic to nuts, feel free to use cooked starchy potatoes (and some olive oil) or stale sourdough bread soaked in soy or oat milk – that’s what many Greek tavernas use too. I hope you’ll enjoy this simple yet delicious way to eat beetroot as much as we do.
SKORDALIA (GREEK GARLIC SAUCE)
SKORDALIA (GARLIC SAUCE)
*ALMONDS: If you are allergic to nuts, this dip can be made nut-free too. In Greek tavernas, it is often made with cooked starchy potatoes or stale sourdough bread soaked in milk (soy or oat milk is perfect for that).
*OIL-FREE: for oil-free version, simply split the garlic head into cloves (do not cut the tops off) and scatter them a baking tray. They should be fully roasted in 15-20 minutes.