When son Avi and Shira returned from a trip to Israel, they brought me a gift of date syrup. I had never used it before, but knew that it was the original “honey” cited in the Bible. Very exotic, I thought, but I really had no clue what to do with it other than to drizzle it over toast.
However! My preparation for the Middle Eastern feast continues, and when I opened Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s Jerusalem cookbook yet again and found Pureed Beets with Yogurt and Za’atar, my heart skipped a beat. The list of ingredients called for date syrup. Yes! Finally a chance to use this sticky sweet condiment. Along with garlic, red chile pepper, scallions, goat cheese, and chopped hazelnuts, this was going to be one heck of a dish.
The only problem is that Joel detests beets. There’s no way to hide the vibrant colored veggie in other ingredients, as Jessica Seinfeld does for children. But, if I could make them interesting, might he actually take a taste? He did indeed, and even pronounced it, “Not bad.”
I thought it was amazing (although I think I would find a better cheese). The deep purple-red puree swirled with the creamy, alabaster Greek yogurt was both beautiful and luxurious on the tongue and palate. The crunchy nuts and scallions made for a wonderful interplay of flavors and textures.
Then, from their perch in back of the counter, I heard the beet greens calling my name. Not wanting to waste this singular opportunity to have the root veggie in the house, I figured I should make use of the whole vegetable. So, I went back to the classic volume The Joy of Cooking and found the most delectable recipe, calling for onion, horseradish, and mustard. Instead of sour cream, I spooned a bit of Greek yogurt over the top.
It was over-the-top delicious. Of course, since I probably will not get Joel to eat beets ever again,
I will have to make the recipe with some other leafy green that doesn’t have a dark red globe on the end of it.