Mezzes have become a ritual and much-favored style of eating in recent years. In lieu of heavy dinners, many people now opt for endless rounds of mezze during summer-time parties to be passed around and around. This helps to present many different kinds of dishes, but also makes eating more fun, casual and communal as bowls of dips are passed from person to person.
Along with standard fare such as hummus, baba ghanouj and labneh, people are getting more inventive with vegetable mezzes as many people turn to a more vegetable-based diet in the Middle East because of global interest in cutting down on meat consumption and in favor of healthier lifestyle choices. Beets are grown easily and in abundance in the Middle East. Most often pickled or made into a beet salad with olive oil and lemon, beets have been encroaching more and more into green leafy salads with herbs and goat cheese on restaurant menus and in peoples’ homes.
A new favorite mezze for us is pureed beets and tahini. Deep pink in color and surprisingly complex in flavor, beet dip with tahini has a lot of nutritional value owing to the high amounts of folate, potassium, iron and vitamin C in the beets, and the antioxidants found in tahini sauce. This recipe is easy, but takes a bit of time to prepare as it requires the cleaning, boiling and then a period for the beets to cool enough so that you can handle them. Nevertheless, the effort is minimal in return for a nutritious and beautiful mezze that will surely be a crowd pleaser at your next family gathering or game night.
You can also use this beet dip with tahini as a spread for sandwiches such as cheese or roasted vegetables. Add to whatever or wherever you’d add vegetables or tahini!