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My husband found an article on a variation of the traditional cucumber yogurt sauce using beets instead of cucumber.  Beets?  I would have never thought to interchange cucumber for beets, but I was very interested in this new concept.  What really sold me what the color of the tzatziki sauce-bright purple!  Since we are trying to incorporate beets in more of our dishes (chicken with beets), I thought this would be a great way to do it. 

I have to admit that I was skeptical to change my classic tzatziki sauce that has been working out pretty well, but I was excited to see if the beet tzatziki could beat it.  (ha!)  So here we go.  First, you roast the beets and then let them cool.  This process can take about 2 hours, so you may want to prepare the beets the day before.  Then you shred the roasted beets and stain your hands purple in the process.  Then you combine all the rest of your ingredients, and watch as the color changes from light pink, to purple to bright purple (or “hot purple” as I thought to name it while snapping photos of this jazzy sauce). 

Although it looks wonderful, and I was eager to dip a piece of broccoli in to taste this colorful sauce, we found it necessary to add more ingredients.  This recipe leaves out some essential pieces that I think add that extra zing to my traditional tzatziki sauce, and the lack of these ingredients really decreases the flavor of the sauce.  So a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of wine vinegar, and an extra clove of garlic should find their way into the sauce  I was especially happy to use the dill I have been growing in a planter in a third floor window of our house.  The delicate green color looked great against the purple, but as I stirred it into the sauce, the color got lost amidst all the purple. 

 

Beet tzatziki sauce is its own thing.  It is not the cucumber yogurt sauce that we are familiar with, but it definitely has flavor.  The minute you taste it you will identify that there are beets in there.  The beet flavor establishes itself in the yogurt.  Next time I may try half beets and half cucumber just to see which flavor will stand out more, and see more variations in color.  This dip will definitely be a conversation piece as you place the purple yogurt sauce onto a plate, and watch as your guests try to figure out what it is.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the greens away from the beets, leaving about 1/4 inch of stems. (Later this week, we’ll show you how to sauté the greens.) Scrub the beets and place in a baking dish (or lidded ovenproof casserole dish). Add 1/4 inch of water to the dish. Cover tightly. Place in the oven and roast small beets (three ounces or less) for 30 to 40 minutes, medium beets (four to six ounces) for 40 to 45 minutes, and large beets (eight ounces or more) for 50 to 60 minutes. They’re done when they’re easily penetrated with the tip of a knife. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the covered baking dish. Cut away the ends and slip off the skins.

Beet Tzatziki Sauce (adapted and revised from the New York Times)

3 medium beets

3 garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 container low-fat Greek style yogurt (or full fat)

Black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon finely chopped dill

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  First, roast the beets.  To do this, cut the greens away from the beets, leaving about 1/4 inch of stems. Wash and scrub the beets, removing any dirt.  Place beets in a baking dish with lid, and add 1/4 inch of water to the dish. Cover tightly. Place in the oven and roast small beets (three ounces or less) for 30 to 40 minutes, medium beets (four to six ounces) for 40 to 45 minutes, and large beets (eight ounces or more) for 50 to 60 minutes.  Test to see if the beets are done by piercing with a fork.  If the fork goes in easily, then they are done.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the covered baking dish. Once cooled, cut the ends of each beet and pull off the skins.Then, grate the roasted beets on the large holes of a grater. Chop garlic cloves finely, and place in large bowl with salt and lemon juice.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Add the yogurt and stir the garlic into it.  Add black pepper, olive oil and wine vinegar.  Then stir in the beets and dill.  Watch as the color explodes.

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