Happy June! Hope you are excited for the start of this new month and all of the possibilities that it brings. The official start of summer is just 20 days from now, although I've already got summertime on my mind. Do you?
One of my favorite summer activities is traveling with my husband. Every summer, while our daughter is away at sleepover camp, we take a relaxing trip together. This summer, we are spending some time in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I've never been there and I can't wait to explore the city, the architecture, the art, and the cuisine of the desert southwest. If you have any recommendations for Santa Fe, please be sure to send them to me soon!
However, we don't need to wait until summer vacation to visit faraway places. This past weekend, our family spent the long holiday weekend in Washington, DC, just about an hour from our home. We go to our nation's capital often, to visit museums, see the cultural attractions, and to eat! I love my family's sense of culinary adventure - there are very few foods that my husband and daughter won't try at least once, while I'm a bit more reserved and cautious with what I'll bite into.
Traveling abroad by tasting the foods of other countries is our favorite way to eat. This past weekend, we visited Georgia, the former Soviet state, which is nestled in the Caucasus Mountains. My prior knowledge of Georgia was quite limited, but after eating the most delicious dinner at Supra, I feel like I'm beginning to know the country - at least by its tastes and aromas! Everything was a delight to my senses, from the smells of the special toní oven used to bake the traditional breads, to the colorful vegetable-based spreads which were a feast to my eyes and my tastebuds. While the ingredients used in the dishes were familiar to me, the way that they were combined was different from how I use them in my own kitchen. We even enjoyed Georgian wine, which was so unique and exquisite.
After dining at Supra, which translates to "feast" (and we really did have anamazing feast), I knew that I wanted to recreate the flavors of some of the dishes at home. We enjoyed a plethora of appetizers, my favorite was a beet-walnut spread, which was full of herbs and spices. I figured that I could make something similar with a few basic ingredients, and I'm sharing my original recipe with you today!
Many of the dishes at Supra featured walnuts as a main ingredient, including the vegetable spreads. Walnuts are my favorite nut, one that I use in my daily meals and recipes all the time. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fats, as well as minerals such as copper, manganese, molybdenum, and biotin. Furthermore, walnuts are antioxidant-rich and support brain health - they even look like little brains! Beets are one of my favorite vegetables, I love their earthy flavor and their beautiful deep color. I've made several dips and spreads with beets in the past, including a delicious beet hummus (I'll share the recipe soon), but this Georgian-inspired recipe is my new favorite! I think you'll agree, it's very nourishing and addictively delicious.
How do you travel without getting on an airplane or going for a long car ride? Food has the ability to take us far without going far. I invite you to choose a destination and take your sense of adventure and your taste buds along for the ride! Share your thoughts with me or ask me for some ideas on how to explore the world through your food choices.
Wishing you a relaxing weekend, full of delicious food, health & wellness.
Beet & Spiced Walnut Spread
Ingredients: (note - use organic whenever possible)
1 medium beet (approximately 8oz)
1 C walnut halves
1/2 t coriander seeds
1/4 t cumin seeds
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t fenugreek seeds
1/2 t sea salt
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T dill (fresh or dried)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the beet and wrap in a piece of aluminum foil. Place the wrapped beet on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature (keep wrapped while cooling). Set aside until ready to proceed with the recipe.
Place walnuts, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon, and fenugreek seeds into the bowl of a large food processor. Pulse to break down the walnuts. Sprinkle the salt on top of the mixture, as well as the extra-virgin olive oil. Continue to pulse the mixture into a coarse meal. Remove to a large mixing bowl.
Peel the cooled beet and cut into large chunks. Place the beet and one clove of minced garlic into the food processor. Blend into a smooth purée, stopping to scrape-down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Pour the beet purée into the bowl with the walnuts. Gently toss to mix the beet purée into the walnut meal until a uniform mixture if formed. Taste for seasoning, adjusting by adding more salt, if needed. Cover and chill for at least one hour, to allow the flavors to blend.
To serve, bring the spread to room temperature and sprinkle the top with fresh or dried dill. Eat as a dip with fresh veggies or as a topping on your favorite flatbread or crackers.
recipe yields approximately 2 cups of spread
spread will keep well, in a covered container in the refrigerator, for 2-3 days
serve the spread as part of a larger assortment of dips/spreads/appetizers
use golden beets in place of red beets for an alternative color and flavor profile
mix a spoonful of beet spread into a bowl of chilled pasta or veggie noodles for a satisfying lunch