Roasted Beetroot, Tahini & Orange Dip

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OK, after all that cheese in Switzerland, I’m on a bit of a health kick. I loved the Swiss cheese but there’s only so much cheese a girl can take and still feel good. I’ve been thinking for a while of buying some of the lovely fresh beetroots around at the  moment to make a dip and it’s taken me till this morning to do it. I picked out three nice firm beetroots in the supermarket. I also bought some Marmonde beefsteak tomatoes, which looked pretty and Waitrose told me were ‘harvested green for full flavour’.

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To be honest, I think they could have done with some more ripening, but mixed with nicely ripe and full-flavoured tomatoes I already had at home, they made a nice salad dressed simply with olive oil, cider vinegar and seasoning with a few whole Greek basil leaves scattered on top. I couldn’t resist buying the Greek basil plant for a hint of summer in my kitchen (I am definitely not a winter girl!).

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Baking the beetroots takes a lot more time than cutting them up and boiling them, but the taste is infinitely superior … and really, we’re only talking a little more time here rather than any more effort.

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I gently scrubbed them to clean them. It’s really important not to pierce the skins so that some of the red juices and flavour seep out. I baked them at 200 C/180 Fan for about an hour. They smelled wonderful as the cooking time went on and I returned to the kitchen to see how they were doing. I tested them by pressing them gently (with an oven glove to protect my fingers!) and it was only once I was fairly certain they were cooked that I did a final check with the end of a small sharp knife pierced in to see if they were tender all through. Then it was an easy job to peel away the skins.

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I quartered the peeled beetroots and put them in a food processor. I then used my zester to add some orange zest.

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The orange idea was a spontaneous one; I just suddenly thought to do it. But I have to also confess that it’s not my idea but because I remembered buying some wonderful beetroot and orange salad at A Cena on the Hill one time. Then I added 6 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons tahini, 2 tablespoons cider (or red wine) vinegar, salt and pepper. I then whizzed it all into a smooth and creamy consistency. Remember to check the seasoning.

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I transferred it to a bowl, drizzled a little more olive oil over the top and sprinkled over some chopped fresh mint.

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I’d bought a wonderful loaf from Ruben’s Bakehouse, a brilliant new artisan bakery in Twickenham – I’m going back next week to do a whole post on it.

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Then the beetroot dip, tomato salad and bread went on to the table for lunch.

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It was a gorgeous lunch. I love the sweet earthiness of beetroots and the baking gives even more depth to the flavour. The orange zest added a distinctive but lovely sweet citrusy edge to the dip. I simply spread it thickly over the wonderful fresh sourdough bread – still warm when I’d carried it from Ruben’s an hour or so earlier. I didn’t need any butter or oil on the bread. The tomato salad wasn’t necessary – it was just that I hadn’t been able to resist those tomatoes! – but they added a nice freshness to the whole meal. A delicious, healthy and satisfying lunch!

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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