Adapted from The Washingtonian
A few notes:
Beets: You can cook beets in countless ways: salt-roasted, Instant Pot, or steam roasted, as here. No matter the method, the key is to peel them when they are warm—rub them with your hands or using paper towels. If you don’t peel them when they are warm, you will likely need to use a paring knife to remove the skin.
Labneh: Labneh is a soft cheese made from strained yogurt that has been consumed in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Israel for thousands of years. It is very hard to find — I found some at Honest Weight in Albany — but I find using Greek yogurt works just as well. Be sure to plan ahead if using Greek yogurt—it should strain overnight to allow it to thicken.
If you like video guidance, I made this in Instagram Stories.
- 1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt or labneh
- 2 to 3 medium red beets (8 to 12 oz)
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- Salt to taste
- 1½ teaspoons lemon juice, if using Greek yogurt, plus more to taste
- Optional garnishes: fresh dill, black sesame and or white sesame seeds, olive oil, za’atar
- Serve with: crackers (I love these) or pita bread, raw or pickled vegetables—I like serving it with pickled cauliflower and carrots, endive spears, Little Gems or Romaine hearts
- If you’re using Greek yogurt, line a sieve with a coffee filter, and set it over a bowl. Place the yogurt in the coffee filter and place the whole set up (bowl, sieve, filter) in the fridge to drain overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Place the beets in a small baking dish like a pie plate or 8-inch baking dish. Add water to reach halfway up the pan. Cover pan with foil. Transfer pan to the oven and cook until the beets until very tender, about an hour. Let cool briefly, then peel the beets by rubbing off the skins. Using paper towels might help. Roughly chop the beets.
- In a food processor or blender, add the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and a quarter of the cooked beets. Purée until very smooth— you’ll have to use a spatula to scrape down the sides in between periods of puréeing. Add 1/8 cup of the strained yogurt or labneh and purée until smooth. Add the remaining beets and repeat the puréeing-scraping process until the beets are very smooth. Add the remaining labneh or yogurt and lemon juice, and purée one more time until smooth. Taste. Add more salt and lemon to taste.
- Garnish as desired. Maydan uses dill and sesame seeds. I’ve been using olive oil and za’atar.