Beetroot pesto with aniseeds and walnuts


Go for the beets


My history with pureed beetroots, started with ottolenghi’s pureed beetroot with za`atar. From the Book: Jerusalem

– Oh, wow!!! I just noticed, there`s a new Ottolenghi-book coming!! NOPI: The Cookbook — already pre-ordered my copy! : )) –

Back to the Beetroots. Unfortunately, back then I was tempted to save some time on the cooking-process … It was just the appetizer for my girlfriend’s birthday-dinner party so I used preboiled beetroots for this one and, as to be expected, it didn’t go so well at first. They were so soaked with water I ended up with a runny, soup-like consistency with no shape at all after puréeing.
Ok, I was one day ahead with my dinner-preparations so I just hung the bloody mass up in cheesecloth, to drain it overnight. And voilà, this did the trick! – And ruined a cheesecloth..
Nevertheless it was quite a highlight at the dinner table. Spurred by the success I wanted more.

Beetroots can be so savory and have great depth in flavor that it is one of a kind in the vegetable kingdom. It definitely makes you long for more!

So, next try!

Same thing again, this time as a pesto and with oven roasted beets. You just can’t cheat on the beet. This had a whole different texture from the start. Not even comparable to the preboiled beets I used in my first try. Roasting the beets instead of cooking them preserves the flavor much stronger.

Worked out well, good dish! With pinenuts, pecorino cheese, thyme – nice!

.. Still.. There had to be more to it.

I wanted these earthy, sweet and savory flavors even more concentrated. I mean, it`s the same with dried tomatoes, they go to a whole different level through slowly roasting and drying.

I strongly recommend you take the extra round with oven-drying the puree. This will be absolutely worth your time! Prepare enough of this for a few glasses! You definitely won’t regent this!!
Just cover the Beetroot pesto with olive oil and seal it tightly in a jar. – This will hold for several weeks in the fridge. This recipe amounts to about 4 standard jam-jars. Aka 4 meals ; )

The combination with aniseed works out surprisingly well. You won’t taste the anise too much in the end. Anise and the beet – a match made in heaven! Yummy!! Anyhow, you can flavor this as you like! Other possible pairings would be:

Sage, thyme, cumin, chili or coriander just to name a few – the beast of the beat actually goes well with a number of your favorite flavors.

Some crumbs of soft goat’s cheese would make a great addition.



  1. 1,5 kg beetroots
  2. 200 ml olive oil
  3. 180 g pecorino cheese (save 30 g to garnish)
  4. 150 g walnuts (+ a small handful to garnish)
  5. 3 cloves of garlic, skin on
  6. 2 tsp roasted and crushed aniseeds
  7. 3/4 tsp sea salt
  8. 5 twigs of rosemary
  9. 1 small bunch of parsley
  10. 1 tsp fresh grounded black pepper
  11. 1/2 tbsp sugar
  12. 500 g e.g. Casarecce pasta


Pour 3 tbsp of the olive oil into an ovenproof dish. Place the beetroot inside and the whole garlic-cloves on top. Seal tightly with tinfoil.

Roast for about 1h 45 at 180°C/356°F.

Roast the walnuts on an additional backing tray together with the beets for about 5 min.

Roast the aniseeds in a small saucepan until aromatic and coarsely crush them in a mortar.

Finely chop the parsley and finely grate the pecorino-cheese (coarsely grate 30 g to garnish).

Once the beets are ready let them cool till you can handle them.

Cut of the end-parts and peel the beetroots (you can roast these a day ahead and peel the next day). Cut it into chunks to fit into your blender. Roughly blitz the beets and garlic to a paste. Try to drain any excess liquid.

Stir in the aniseeds and sugar, and spread the puree on a baking tray or a big ovenproof dish. Sprinkle 3/4 tsp of sea salt over it, evenly distribute the rosemary twigs and press them lightly into the puree.

Dry at 150°C/302°F with the fan on for about 1h 45min without a lid.

Stir through after 45 min.

Once finished, take the rosemary out and discard it.
roasted beets

roasted beets


first purée


ready for the oven



the dried beetroot purée as it comes from the oven


second stage puréed beets



the finished beetroot pesto

beetroot pesto


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