Beetroot trio

A trio of beetroot spreads

Beetroot three ways: A spicy beetroot hummus (left), and beet green pesto (top right) and a beetroot tapenade (bottom right)

A pink one, a green one and a deep red one – three handy little beetroot-based spreads that can help brighten up your day, and your dishes.

I think I must be addicted to beetroot, and while I’m on the subject, many thanks to my ex-BBC colleague Paula Dear who recently posted a quick-to-make and tasty beetroot recipe to Life and Chai’s Facebook page. It went like this:

“Roast the beetroot whole, then peel and dice. Fry lots of finely chopped garlic for a few seconds, add the chopped beet and saute for a few minutes. Take off the heat and stir in a huge dollop of natural yogurt. Season, add fresh mint and/or parsley. Stir into hot pasta. Maybe add some toasted pine nuts too. Bingo.”

Thank you Paula. I tried it and it was delicious.

You should also check out Paula’s fabulous blog Seventeen by Six. She and husband Jeremy are currently long term trekkers by VW campervan around South America, having some amazing adventures. Find out what happened when she ate a cuy – otherwise known as a guinea pig – in Ecuador!

And so to my little trio.



Apart from looking very appealing, adding beetroot to a base hummus recipe adds a bit more sweetness, plus this dip also contains a hint of red chilli and a hint of mint.


One can chickpeas
1 tbsp tahini
One medium beetroot
¼ teaspoon red chilli powder (a bit more if you want a bigger kick)
Juice of half a lemon
Four mint leaves, finely chopped
Salt and black pepper to season


Peel the beetroot, roughly chop then put through a food processor and blend to a smooth paste. Add in all the other ingredients and process until smooth (you can add a little water to help this process along).



Whatever you do, don’t throw away your beetroot greens. They’re really tasty – work great in a stir-fry – and for the first time I’ve tried them out in a new pesto recipe here.

We tend to think of pesto as a mix of basil leaves, pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan. The literal meaning of pesto is to crush or grind – in the same way that this sauce is traditionally made in a pestle and mortar.

So really, a pesto sauce can be made up of many different ingredients – and the trend in recent years has been to add in all sorts of healthy greens like cabbage and kale.

As I had a mountain of beetroot tops, I thought I’d experiment, and this is the result. Using sweet pecan nuts balances out the more earthy taste of the greens.


Around 8-10 beetroot leaves
Half cup of pecans
2 tbsp of finely grated parmesan (or you could use a mature cheddar)
Olive oil, from 2 tbsp upwards (you can adjust the amount depending on whether you want a thinner sauce for pasta or a thicker paste for spreading on fresh bread, etc)
Salt and pepper to season


Wash the beetroot leaves well and remove most of the thicker central stalk. Put in a food processor or blender with the pecans and olive oil. Add in the grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste.



Traditional tapenade has a rich, salty flavour, and I find that adding beetroot adds a welcome sweet note. You only need to use this paste sparingly, and it tastes wonderful with a strong cheese like goat’s cheese.


One medium beetroot
Half a cup of black olives
1 tbsp capers
4-5 whole anchovies
1 tbsp olive oil
Squeeze of lemon juice


Finely shred the beetroot in a food processor and then add in the rest of the ingredients. Lightly pulse until you have a coarse paste. This spread will keep in the fridge happily for several weeks (if it lasts that long!).

In my next recipe post I’ll be showing you how to combine all these dips with a few extra ingredients to create a beautiful vegetarian dish that would be great for a dinner party or posh supper.



Leave a Reply