Oh my. I have been busy. I have over a dozen posts half-finished for this blog that I have not been able to get up because I am so busy. I’ve decided to post this one because it is the recipe I have been making, serving and eating the most over these last few busy months. It’s really worth making…even if you are crazy busy.
I made this beet caviar for the second season of The Illuminati Ball, an immersive excursion which I cook a Decadent Eight Course Vegan Tasting Menu for. I make a more traditional Beet Caviar (with lemon and walnut or hazelnut) for the ball early in the season when the weather is still cool, but when the weather gets warmer I something with more zip is called for. As soon as summer starts we all instantly want to eat tomatoes, but of course the tomatoes need a month or two of warm weather to grow! I try very hard to eat and serve local food, so I needed to invent a summer beet appetizer to serve until the local tomatoes ripened for the Tomato Eggplant Appetizer with Warm Moroccan Spices that we make in late July and August. This beet caviar with lime and pepitas turned out so well that I’ve continued making and eating it myself all summer!The Beet Caviar is pictured here in beautiful tea dust bowls made by the wonderful potter Regina Wickham, who was kind enough to let me come up to her house in upstate New York to work on my Estonian Folklore Dinner Project for a week in June. I may have been a little distracted by photographing food on her gorgeous pottery, which you can see more of at this link.
BEET CAVIAR WITH LIME AND PEPITAS
- 3 small beets (about 10 oz), washed and trimmed
- 3 plump dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 tablespoons tequila (or some other sort of liquor)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
- 3 tablespoons lime juice, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- lots of freshly chopped cilantro
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the center. Puncture the beets with a fork a few times, and roast for an hour, or until the beets are completely tender when you test by cutting into the center with a knife.
- In the meantime, gently heat the booze in a small saucepan. Place the dates in a glass bowl, and, when just hot, pour the alcohol over the dates. let the dates soak for at least 10 minutes.
- While the beets and dates are doing their thing, heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Toast the pepitas in the dry, hot pan, shaking occasionally until they turn from green to a toasty golden color. If they start o burn lower the heat.
- When the beets are cooked and cool enough to peel, remove the skins and chop into cubes. Place in a food processor with the dates, booze, garlic, lime juice, toasted pepitas, and salt. Puree until the texture is to your liking.
- Taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed. Garnish with lots of freshly chopped cilantro. I. like to serve this dip with seed and nut crackers made with just cumin seed.