The other day I was making beet spread and some of the juice stained my blouse with beautiful color. That stain reminded me of how my aunt used to color wheat stalks when she wove her baskets. She used beet juice, which had the most brilliant red color I ‘ve ever seen. I used watch her boil the beet, then squeeze the juice out of them and use that juice to color her wheat stalks.
Beet originally came from plants in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. The first mention of these sea plants appeared in an Assyrian text describing their planting in the hanging gardens of Babylon around 800 B. C. Babylon. The ancient Greeks presented beets as one of their offerings to the sun god Apollo. The earliest Greek name for beets was “teutlon,” most likely because their foliage resembled squid tentacles. Until the 3rd century, people concentrated on the leaves of beets and left the root alone. The Romans were the first to use the roots for medicinal purposes. They were used as a curative broth to treat fevers and other ailments . The first mention of using beet roots in cooking was in a cookbook in the fifth century A.D. writtn by Marcus Gavius, a Roman gourmet.
I use beet to color my turnip and cabbage pickles, tossed in salad and in this beautiful appetizer
Two beets, boiled and grated
Two tablespoons tahini*
Two cloves garlic, mashed
Salt to taste
-In a chilled salad bowl, whisk tahini, garlic, yogurt, lemon juice and salt.
-Fold the grated beets and adjust the seasonings. If the mixture is too thick add a little water or lemon juice.
*Tahini is pureed sesame seeds. Tahini is available in most grocery stores.
I hope you give this spread a try. It will be the center of any dinner table.