Spiced Beets with Dill


Spiced beets topped with cooling yogurt are as beautiful as they are tasty. photo by Nancy Duran

I bought my third mortar and pestle recently. And she’s a beauty. I know most people don’t see the need for three mortar and pestles (or even one perhaps) but there’s something about the design of this implement that I just


A mortar and pestle. An essential chef’s tool. photo by Nancy Duran

adore. Apart from its good looks this tool is highly functional. Grinding spices and herbs with garlic and salt releases loads and loads of flavor without the fuss of chopping. In this simple beet dish, the cumin, coriander, and peppercorns combine to create a fragrant, slightly spicy finish on the beets, a perfect complement to their earthy sweetness. If you get yourself a little mortar and pestle like the one pictured here, it’s actually a nice decorative addition to any kitchen countertop. And the culinary benefits are pretty great too.

Serves 4 to 6

3 bunches medium to small beets (about 9)
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
Sea salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable or chicken stock
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh dill
Greek yogurt, to serve

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Trim the beet greens from the beets (reserve for another use). Wrap each beet in tin foil, place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, until easily pierced with a paring knife. Unwrap beets and, when cool enough to handle, peel them. Quarter the medium beets, halve the small beets.
  3. In a mortar, place the garlic, cumin, coriander, peppercorns, and a pinch of sea salt. Using the pestle, grind the ingredients to a paste. The sea salt will help to break down the garlic into a pulp.
  4. In a small frying pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic paste and cook, stirring, and being careful not to burn, for about 3 minutes, until the garlic is cooked off and the spices are very fragrant. Add the vinegar and stock and cook for 30 seconds more.
  5. In a large bowl, toss the beets with the garlic-vinegar dressing. Let sit for at least an hour covered at room temperature (or up to overnight in the refrigerator) to let the flavors infuse.
  6. When ready to serve, pour the dish out onto a serving platter, sprinkle with fresh dill and sea salt to taste. Serve either at room temperature or chilled with dollops of Greek yogurt over top.

Nutritional analysis based on 6 servings (does not include salt to taste or yogurt):
Calories 106, Fat 5 g, Sodium 104 mg, Carbohydrates 14 g, Fiber 4 g, Sugar 10 g, Protein 2g

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