If you’re tired of hummus (even the red pepper version), try this alternative, Roasted beet tahini dip. Super easy, it uses only a few ingredients, and takes your appetizer game to a whole new level.
The recipe comes from Emily Paster‘s new book, Food Swap: Specialty Recipes for Bartering, Sharing & Giving.
Informal food swaps are part of my cooking style. (That’s a nice way of saying I often cook more than we can eat. While I do freeze the extra sometimes, swapping can be useful – and more fun.) Maybe I give a neighbor a portion of soup from my humongous pot. In return, I get a hunk of her homemade bread. Or I make two loaves of my apple cider loaf cake and offer one to a friend in exchange for a few servings of her chicken Marbella.
I participated in my first community food swap last June, as part of the Eat Write Retreat food blogging conference.
Emily, the co-founder of the Chicago Food Swap, led the session. Emily explained that a community food swap is an event at which people trade items that they made or grew themselves. No money changes hands and there is no competition. The object is simply to trade the items you bring for items you want from other swap participants. Whether a trade happens, and if so, on what terms, is solely a matter of negotiation between you and another swap participant.
Conference attendees who wanted to participate brought food divided into swapping-size packages. My swap items were candied ginger and candied orange peels.
What items brought by others did I want most? How much of my contributions would I offer for the items I coveted? What would be my strategy for swapping to get what I wanted and to trade all of the packages that I brought? Emily conveyed enthusiasm for the process and gave us tips on how to make it fun, as well as productive.
The time allotted for the swap at Eat Write Retreat went quickly and I had a blast. I traded away my candied orange peel and ginger for a wide assortment of sweets, jams, and other items – even fresh avocados.
Whether you want to organize a swap or seek recipes ideas for your contribution, Emily’s book is a great resource.
Roughly the first third of the book is about swapping. From advice on how to set up a swap to reasons why you should participate, it’s an easy read.
The remaining two-thirds of the book contains 80 recipes suitable for swapping. They run the gamut from truly easy all the way to recipes requiring sterilized jars and canning knowledge. The recipes are arranged in three categories based on when shelf life. In the first category are items to consume relatively soon, including candy, cookies, breads and soup. The second group consists of those with a longer shelf life, such as dip, sauces, condiments, granola, nuts and drinks. Finally, there are pantry items: vinegars, extracts, dry mixes, and preserved foods.
Even if you’re not into community food swapping, this is a fun cookbook with appealing recipes. Many of them would make lovely host/hostess or holiday gifts. Others, like the Roasted Beet Tahini Dip in this post (below) would work well for “regular” meals, parties, or nibbling.
Most of the ingredients for this Roasted Beet Tahini Dip are commonly found in grocery stores.
The only one you may not be familiar with is the Middle Eastern spice called sumac. A coarse red powder, it comes from the berries of the bush with the same name. A bit less tart than lemon juice, sumac adds a deep, gorgeous red color, as well as tang, to a dish. You can find sumac at spice stores, online, or at Middle Eastern groceries.
I did receive a complimentary copy of Food Swap from the publisher. However, this post and the opinions expressed are completely my own. Moreover, I bought a second copy of the book for my daughter, because I thought it was a useful set of recipes and that swapping is a community event that she might enjoy.
Roasted Beet Tahini Dip
- 2 pounds beets
- 1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt full fat, low fat or nonfat
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sumac Middle Eastern spice
- Freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Wash the beets well and trim off the ends. If beets are larger than golfball-sized, cut them in halves or quarters. Wrap each beet (or piece) in aluminum foil and roast in the oven until tender. Check for doneness after 45 minutes - may take up to 90 minutes, but probably less. When done, open the aluminum packages and let beets cool until you can easily handle them. Then slip the skins off and discard them. Cut the beets in large chunks.
- Combine the beets, yogurt, garlic, tahini lemon juice, and sumac in a food processor or in a bowl with a handheld immersion blender. Puree the ingredients until they are smooth. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
- Store in the refrigerator.
Beets stain clothing and cutting boards, so keep that in mind as you wash, cut and work with them.
You can turn regular yogurt into Greek-style simply by straining it
As an alternative to roasting the beets in the oven, use the toaster oven. It works just fine and doesn't heat up the kitchen on a hot day.