Travel is our family’s window into a world of possibilities. And food is surely a big part. This beet spread was served to us in Morocco at a small family Lebanese restaurant owned by a couple. Mona was the chef and her husband served the meals, all from a tiny kitchen.
If you have cooked beets ready, it is five minutes to put this together! I initially steamed or roasted beets at home. However, since my son started making this recipe, to make it easier I suggested using drained canned beets. It works well.
We had a hard time with vegetarian food in Morocco and soon got tired of the same tagine and couscous served in tourist areas. Our best and most memorable meals were in riads made by the women of the house. One night we decided to find this Lebanese restaurant we had read about located in a residential area away from the old medina where we were staying in a riad (which served excellent dinners made-to-order). The only vegetarian items in this tiny place were the mezzes. Each one was delectable. Mona used a lot of Middle Eastern recipe books written in French and this beet spread was inspired by one of those recipes. She did tell me roughly what she used.
I have recreated my happy memory here. At the time I did this recipe, pomegranate molasses was not available here and so I used good honey and lemon juice. But now it is easy to get pomegranate molasses in our local stores and I love using it (as did Mona).
Simple, humble ingredients come together to make a sublime combination. I even freeze it to make an ice-cream! We double the recipe at home for extras. It meets my sons’ requirements of simplicity and ease! They also love it and scoop up spoons of it from the bowl into their mouths.
The beet spread does not have to just be an appetizer served with crisp vegetables, crackers, bread, olive. Make a crostini or soft open sandwich (whole grain or gluten-free bread or crisp bread). Here we have combined it with cannellini bean spread (you can also use hummus) and served it with salad for a quick and super fresh, delicious lunch.
You can shingle it with crisp thinly sliced cucumbers. Layer on lemony chick peas or black eyed peas or edamame. Freeze it to make an unusual and sophisticated “ice cream”. Explore the possibilities.
- 1 cup of steamed, boiled, canned ( a 15 ounce can has two cups of beets), or roasted beets, sliced or diced (you can buy store bought boiled beets if pressed for time)
- ½ cup of walnuts
- 1 2 in. square wheat cracker (small) or 1 small rice cake or 1/2 slice of bread made into crumbs
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons good floral honey (the type of used makes a difference to the taste)
- 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (OR two teaspoons good floral honey and lemon juice according to taste)
- 3 tablespoons of good olive oil
- 1 small clove of garlic, grated (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- pinch of powdered roasted cumin (if you have it)
- Blend everything together in a food processor or blender till smooth or slightly grainy, as you like. Taste and adjust seasoning as well as lemon juice to taste.
Serves 6 as an appetizer. Preparation: 5 minutes.