the whole beet

 I love beetroots. I will be the to first confess however, that I usually only use the root and dump the rest in the compost - that I even thought the root was the only edible part! Then while thumbing through the vegetable chapter in Nourishing Traditions I read how the "tops" or leaves of a beet are just as edible and nutritionally dense as the root - not only that, but that the process of grating, cooking by heat or lacto-fermenting actually helps the body absorb it's nutrients and eliminate acids that are troublesome for the gut.

In France farmers would sell great baskets of cold beets which had been steamed with skins still on for preparing various traditional salads. I was reminded of their wonderful smell and taste as I wandered through our local farmer's market this weekend - I spied a bunch of colourful heirloom beets from a local organic farm and snapped them up without hesitation. Home they went and minutes later became part of an experiment - my take on Turkish beetroot dip - but this time using the whole beet - leaves, stalks, root and all.

The result is an absolutely delicious, earthy dip - a perfect accompaniment we discovered to the grass-fed beef sausages we also acquired at the market and backyard grown cos lettuce salad! And just as wonderful spooned atop buckwheat crackers and carrot sticks...

. the whole beet dip .

1 large beetroot (leaves, stalks, root), washed thoroughly
1 garlic clove, minced
olive oil
handful flatleaf parsley, minced
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup thick, unsweetened greek style yoghurt or labneh

Peel and grate beetroot, chop finely leaves and stalks. In a small frying pan gently sauté beetroot with a tablespoon of olive oil. Once softened, add crushed garlic and continue to stir until completely cooked (you may need to add a little boiling water if it gets too dry). Set aside to cool in a mixing bowl. Add parsley, lemon juice, spice and sea salt. Using a stick blender - blend beetroot mixture until it resembles a paste. Stir in yoghurt and season with extra salt or lemon juice to taste. Serve in a bowl with a generous drizzle of olive oil. Should keep for up to a week in the fridge in a well sealed container (not that it will last that long)...