Although this may look like a blackcurrant fool or some sort of blackberry mousse, it is in fact a beetroot and walnut pesto. Beetroot dip, really. Its idea came from my local food festival in Thame, Oxfordshire. I was allured by something with a pretty berry colour and then tasted how incredible it was. Then I asked the price. It was one of those moments when you politely walk away and then privately deem it so extortionately priced that it influences you to do it yourself. Consumer outrage is a beautiful weapon.
Beetroot is one of those vegetables that I love yet rarely eat. This recipe makes me crave beetroot, or at least its walnut dip form. It’s sweet, nutty, creamy, and the basil and garlic give it piquancy. I’m sure you don’t need the parmesan, but I think it adds just a bit more depth and creaminess.
Television chef Gino D’Acampo’s explains the glories of Italian food as providing: “Minimum Effort for Maximum Satisfaction.” I think this simple starter or snack fits the bill. It works really well with toasts rubbed with garlic.
It’s the texture of a slightly chunky hummus and I’m sure it would work equally well with pitas. I’ve heard the flavours make a good sauce for mackerel. (My fish mission isn’t quite far enough along to vouch for this though.)
It would make an elegant canapé in a cos lettuce leaf, with or without beef, and maybe even a dash of horseradish sauce.
Beetroot Dip Recipe
1 ½ cups cooked beetroot
½ cup toasted walnuts
½ clove of garlic
3 sprigs of basil
2 teaspoons of parmesan cheese
4 teaspoons or large drizzles of olive oil
Salt and pepper
Makes just over 1 cup of finished dip; about the size of a small hummus container.
If you have a food processor, just put it all in together and slowly add the oil as the rest of the mixture combines. I think the texture is nicest when you can still taste tiny bits of the different elements, rather than it being completely smooth. Add salt and pepper according to your taste, and more oil, if you think it needs it.
I just have an inexpensive stick hand blender, so I chopped everything small before trying to use the hand blender. It worked fine.