While on the subject of beets (the previous post), another beet recipe well worth trying is ; Roasted Beet Puree with Yogurt; Shamandar bi’l laben. The word shamandar somehow elicits the first hint of this beet puree’s outrageously shocking color, and that is a feast for the eyes, while the true pleasure of this dish is unleashed as you take your first bite! I assure you, contrary to any doubts you may have about beets, you will become a loyal convert of this unctuous Eastern Mediterranean meze staple.
Like Muhammara (posted in bites and starters), I came across what would become another favorite Paula Wolfort recipe for a beet puree in The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, and recently, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s recipe from their wildly popular Jerusalem Cookbook firmly put shamandar on tables across the globe. But just in case you missed it…
Beet Puree with Yogurt; Shamandar bi’l laban serves 6
- 6 medium beets, roasted or boiled
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
- 1 small red chile, seeded and chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice + more to taste
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- fresh baby mint leaves
- goat cheese, crumbled (optional)
Lightly oil the beets and tightly wrap them in foil and roast until very soft, (click here: Beets, how to roast). Allow them to cool completely, slip the skin off and coarsely chop them up. Set aside. You can also use boiled beets, but the roasting process intensifies the flavor and well worth the effort.
Place the garlic, salt and chile in a mortar and mash with a pestle into a fine paste.
Place the chopped beets in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the garlic chile paste and pomegranate molasses (posted: Pomegranate Glazed Pork Loin) and pulse until the beets are broken down and then puree, adding the olive oil through the feed tube, until nearly smooth.
Transfer the beet mixture to a mixing bowl and fold in the Greek yogurt until completely incorporated. Taste for seasoning and add salt and additional lemon juice to taste.
Serve as a starter with toasted pita triangles, with grilled meats, or with an Eastern Mediterranean meze!