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Roasted Fennel-Beet Spread

Monday, January 30th, 2017

When I was a child, I hated beets.  Beets were deep red circles that came from a can and they were always pickled, which in my child-like mind meant that they smelled “funny”, so I certainly did not want to eat them.  Then one day in my adult life, I ordered a salad with roasted vegetables.  I was eating my salad and talking with friends at my table when suddenly, I tasted something I didn’t immediately recognize.  Parting the lettuce with my fork, I was shocked to realize that there were beets in my salad and even more surprised to admit that these beets actually tasted good!  A few “waiter-questions” later, it was revealed that these beets were roasted, not pickled…and thus began my new relationship with beets.
In this recipe, slices of red and golden beets were combined with slices of fennel in a marinade of olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and za’atar, a spice blend available in most grocery stores.  After roasting in the oven, they were placed in the bowl of a food processor with blood orange infused extra virgin olive oil and cranberry-pear infused white balsamic vinegar, which are available at specialty oil and vinegar stores.  A few quick pulses of the food processor yielded a texture that was coarsely chopped, but not pureed, giving the spread more body and versatility in its use.  Be sure to read the serving suggestions at the end of the recipe.
Who knows?  This spread might actually be a healthy option you could serve as a snack at a Super Bowl party!

 Roasted Fennel-Beet Spread

1 large red beet, washed and peeled
1 large golden beet, washed and peeled
1 fennel bulb, green fronds removed
2 Tablespoons extra virgin oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Za’atar seasoning
To make the spread:
2 Tablespoons blood orange infused extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons cranberry-pear infused white balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut the beets into ¼ inch slices.  Trim the bottom and remove the outer layer of the fennel bulb.  Slice the fennel bulb into ¼ inch pieces.
Make the marinade by blending the extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, coarse ground black pepper and Za’atar seasoning in a large bowl.  Add the sliced fennel and beets and use a spatula to turn the slices to cover with the marinade.
Arrange the beets and fennel slices in a single layer on the parchment-covered baking sheet.  Roast the vegetables in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the slices can be easily pierced with a fork.
Place roasted vegetables in bowl of food processor.  With motor running add blood orange infused olive oil and cranberry-pear infused balsamic vinegar, pulsing until the vegetable mixture is chopped into small pieces, but not pureed.
Transfer mixture into a small bowl if serving immediately.  If you plan to serve the spread later, transfer the mixture into a storage container and allow it to cool before covering the container and placing in the refrigerator.  The spread can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Serving suggestions:
1)  combine with plain hummus and used as a spread on bread for sandwiches or wraps
2)  add 2 to 3 Tablespoons, per serving, to a salad, such as the Almond, Farro and Black Bean Salad and stir to
3)  use it as a topping over goat cheese on your favorite crackers


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2 Responses to “Roasted Fennel-Beet Spread”

  1. Pat Bailey Says:

    Yahoo- I have golden beets on hand and can easily get a red beet to try this new spread. It sounds like you’ve adapted the other beet and fennel spread that we love. Will have to get the new balsamic vinegar too. We’re acquiring quite a collection thanks to you.

  2. admin Says:

    Thanks, Pat. Creating the recipe for this spread was somewhat “serendipitous”. I had red and golden beets in the refrigerator and discovered a fennel bulb I had forgotten. A dear friend gave me a collection of small bottles of oils and vinegars that were new to me, so I was inspired to use items on hand to create something simple, but delicious. Hope you enjoy it too!