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