Like many Australians, I ate quite a lot of tinned beetroot when I was growing up. It was there on our plates of salads, in sandwiches and, what would the classic Aussie burger be without some slices of beetroot lurking within to jump out and surprise you, leaving a beetroot stain on your best t-shirt.
When my youngest brother was about three or four, the only two vegetables he would willingly consume were beetroot and corn. He ate so much beetroot his pee turned pink (or so the family legend has it anyway). While I can’t remember my pee turning pink, I still loved beetroot – one of my favourite sandwiches was beetroot and mayonnaise (proof that I wasn’t much of a sophisticated gourmand, but that I did really love beetroot).
When I was a kid, we were mostly fed canned beetroot and I remember being amazed the first time I saw my grandmother cook fresh beets and dress them in vinegar and sugar. It was like a magic trick producing a vegetable dish I had only ever eaten out of a can.
While I now prefer cooking up fresh beetroot, I always have cans of baby beets for when good fresh beetroot isn’t available or just for when I need a bit of a beetroot fix on a salad sandwich. They are good dressed with yoghurt or sour cream mixed with a dollop of horseradish cream and they’re essential for that new Aussie classic summer salad of lentils, beetroot and fetta (recipe on the back of the McKenzies French-style lentil pack).
For this beetroot dip, I like to the roast the beetroot, giving an added density to the flavour, but it they can also be boiled or cooked in a pressure cooker. This recipe is basically a mock up of the commercially available Pilpel Beetroot and Almond dip. The secret ingredient is the hot English mustard which gives a wasabi-like kick which really sets this beetroot dip apart from the crowd.
This is a real guesstimate recipe, so feel free to mess around with the quantities, add more nuts and ‘taste and test’ a little when you are adding the seasonings to get the balance right between the sweet and tart vinegariness and the bolt of heat from the hot English mustard. As always, if you are making this dip gluten-free, take care to source both gluten-free vinegar and mustard.
Roast beetroot and almond dip
- 2 largish beetroots (about 300g) wrapped in foil and baked in the oven 200°C or 180°C fan forced for 40–60 minutes, until tender.
- A good handful of almonds.
- 2–3 tablespoons macadamia, other nut oil or olive oil.
- 3 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.
- 1–3 teaspoons of hot English mustard.
- ½ lemon juiced or 1½ tablespoons of verjuice.
- Salt to taste.
- When the beetroots have cooled, peel and roughly chop them.
- Throw almonds in the small bowl of a food processor and whiz until nuts are fairly evenly chopped. You don’t need them to be really, really fine because they will process more when you add the beetroots.
- Add beetroot and the rest of ingredients (starting with the lower end of the measurements) and pulse until you have a smooth paste.
- Taste and adjust for seasoning. I personally like a bit of a wasabi-like kick to this dip but my son also eats it and he doesn’t like it if it’s too hot, so add the hot mustard carefully if you are feeding children.
Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free