Roasting the beetroot does take some time, but once it is in the oven no attention is required, so it can be left to cook while you are doing other things. The beetroot could be cooked in the microwave which is much quicker but roasting gives a more intense flavour to the finished dip, so I think it is worth cooking them this way.
Beetroot are low in kilojoules, a good source of fibre, folate and vitamin B. Their red colour comes from betanin, a phytochemical which is believed to boost immunity. They are however, messy to prepare with their red colour tending to colour anything they come in contact with. To avoid ending up with beetroot coloured stained hands wear disposable gloves and to protect your clothing wear an apron (even if you don’t usually wear an apron this is the one time it is worth getting it out of the drawer and putting it to use!)
Beetroot & Walnut Dip
With its bright red colour this dip fits in perfectly at any festive occasion and will take you right through summer, but best of all it is also healthy. Wrapping the beetroot in foil helps shorten the cooking time as it steams as it roasts.
Makes a medium-sized bowl
2 medium (300-400g each) beetroot
½ cup walnuts
1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 tbsp tahini
1 tsp ground cumin
juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
3-4 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
crackers, to serve
1 Loosely wrap beetroot in foil, place in a baking dish and bake at 180°C for 1½ to 2 hours or until tender – you should be able to easily pierce the beetroot with a skewer.
Remove beetroot from foil and set aside until cool enough to handle.
2 Place walnuts on a baking tray and place in the oven for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted – this can be done while the beetroot are cooking.
3 Once beetroot have cooled a little, remove skin, if they are properly cooked the skin should easily slip off. Cut cooked beetroot into chunks and place in the bowl of a food
4 Add walnuts, garlic, tahini, cumin, lemon juice and 3 tbsp oil to the food processor bowl and process to make a smooth dip. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper – add a little more lemon juice and remaining oil, if necessary. Transfer dip to a serving bowl and accompany with crackers.
Happy cooking and eating.
Recipe by Rachel Blackmore