I don't know which part of the world you're living in, dear reader, what your images are when you look outside your window, what are the aromas you breathe or the sounds you hear when you open your front door in the morning on your way to work. My images, for the last couple of days, are of gloomy dark skies, my aromas are those of damp wet grass, my sounds are those of rain trickling down my windows. I'm in need of some serious lifting up.
I tried battling my blues by playing my favorite music as loud as possible (that has always been my go-to trick) thus ignoring my neighbors, but that only works temporarily. I tried watching some early episodes of Seinfeld to have a good laugh, but as soon as I turned the TV off, my blues came back to creep up on me. I tried talking on the phone with my favorite people (on the phone and not in person because all but one of my favorite people are in Greece and not in Holland), but that had no effect either.
Now, if you expect me to tell you that I miraculously cheered up by cooking something that blew me away and took my sense of taste to another level, then you're mistaken. You're mistaken in that I miraculously cheered up, though not about the "blew me away" part. Because yes my friends, I might love and appreciate food, but unfortunately it's not enough to change my mood (S. knows this well). And, ok, I might exaggerate a bit about my sense of taste taken to another higher level after savoring this but... truth be told, I got a little excited. Correction, I got really excited. That's why I want to share this recipe. A recipe good enough to excite me when I'm in this state is definitely good enough to excite anyone!
Looking through my magazine clippings for recipes, needing something different to cook, it was color that jumped out at me not a recipe. The color was so bright I was immediately tempted to read on, and it wasn't all looks, this baby had substance. It was a purée but not a common, boring milk-and-potato purée that you serve to those you loathe rather than lust, it was a beetroot purée. Beetroot, yes! I was smiling, because now the beetroot is in season. Lucky me! So, I got on with it. Bought the beets from my greengrocer (organic of course), stopped by the super market to buy the rest of the ingredients, which were less than four and then straight home to try it.
A couple of hours later, dinner was served. Beetroot purée with potatoes, walnuts, garlic and olive oil, and a nice pan-seared fillet of tilapia. Drooling yet? If this vibrant color, reminiscent of mediterranean summer sunsets, doesn't stir you up then I don't know what will.
Well, if you think you're getting a mushy bowl of beetroots and potatoes then look again. Go ahead, look at the photographs. Does that look mushy to you? No. Some may say "but that's what I want from a purée" and I could have agreed if I hadn't known the existence of this purée. It is light and mousse-like in texture and at the same time it has this crunch from the walnuts that pleasantly surprises you. There's a little kick from the garlic and sweetness from the beetroot that marry so well with the starchiness of the potato and the richness of the olive oil, making this, one incredible side dish.
You can pair it with any white meat but I prefer fish, which I actually think is the perfect pairing. You can use tuna, or monkfish, or sea bass, or the humble tilapia like I did, or whatever fish you fancy, though I wouldn't recommend the salmon. It's too oily for this purée. Whichever fish you eventually use, make sure to top it with lemon or even lime juice. Believe me, the combination will be heavenly.
If you want a salad to accompany your dish, then a green leafy salad with a splash of white wine vinegar and olive oil would be the best.
And if you want some wine to go with that, then why don't you pick a nice fruity Chardonnay with high acidity, served chilled. That would be my choice. Although we didn't have any, because my boyfriend is on medication for this terrible flu he's been fighting for the last ten days and I hate to drink alone. But you go ahead! Enjoy!
By the way, one thing that always cheers me up is seeing your comments. It encourages me to go on rambling about my life and writing about my food.
So thank you!
Poures Pantzariou me Patates kai Karydia (Greek Beetroot Purée with Potatoes and Walnuts)
Adapted from the Greek magazine "K"
This recipe is so easy and delicious and most of the ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen cabinets.
You just need a little time for the vegetables to roast and the help of a food processor or a good old-fashioned vegetable mill.
Yield: 4-6 side-dish servings
6 medium-sized beetroots
6 medium-sized floury potatoes
1 medium-sized garlic clove
100 g walnuts, ground
1/2 cup olive oil plus extra for pouring over vegetables before roasting
Freshly ground white pepper
3 Tbsp chives, finely chopped (optional)
Special equipment: food processor or vegetable mill
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Wash beetroots and potatoes well under cold water. Place them in a large baking pan, spaced apart, sprinkle them with salt and pour a little olive oil on top. Roast them on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The beetroots are ready when you can insert a toothpick in the middle.
In the meantime, place walnuts in the food processor and grind them. Not too finely, you don't want them to become pasty or too oily.
When beetroots and potatoes are cooked, leave them to cool slightly and then peel them. It's better to use a pair of gloves to do this.
Cut beetroots in medium-sized pieces and place them in the food processor (or vegetable mill) along with the garlic clove, and chop them finely. Pour 1/4 cup of the olive oil in the processor and blend well until the mixture is smooth. Put ground walnuts in the processor and blend well with the beetroot.
It is best to use a vegetable mill or potato masher or even a plain old fork for mashing the potatoes. If you put potatoes in a food processor they tend to "release" their starch and become gluey. We don't want that consistency in this purée.
In a large bowl combine the processed beetroot, walnuts and garlic with the mashed potatoes, the rest 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix very well with a spoon until all ingredients are well blended and you have a smooth purée (the texture of course will be slightly grainy from the walnuts).
Garnish your purée with the chopped chives (optional) and serve immediately.
You can also serve this purée when it has completely cooled. It is equally delicious.