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Beetroot and Sweet Potato Dip with Pistachio Bulgur Salsa

Sami Tamimi

by Sami Tamimi, Tara Wigley from Falastin: A Cookbook

This vibrant dip from Falastin: A Cookbook is flavoured with allspice and cinnamon, and topped with feta, labneh, and a nutty salsa. Serve it as a snack or as part of a sharing feast.

From the book

Sami Tamimi, Tara Wigley


Beetroot was not something Sami grew up eating. This is a dish, therefore, which shows how the ingredients that bookend Sami’s palate – the ground allspice and cinnamon, the tangy feta and labneh, the bulgur and olive oil – can be used in a fresh way. The dip is lovely as it is, as part of a spread, or can be served as a side to an oily fish like salmon or mackerel.

Shortcut: The dip works well alone without the salsa, if you are keeping things simple. If you do this, just increase the pistachios to 100g. If you want the salsa to be gluten-free, use cooked quinoa instead of the bulgur.

Getting ahead: If you are making your own labneh (see page 48 of Falastin: A Cookbook), you’ll need to get this going at least 24 hours before serving. The dip keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days. The salsa can be made up to a day before serving and kept in the fridge. As ever, bring both elements back to room temperature before serving.

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500g raw beetroots (about 4 medium), unpeeled
1 medium-sized sweet potato (240g)
70g bulgur wheat
75g pistachio kernels, lightly toasted and finely chopped
15g parsley, finely chopped
15g mint, roughly chopped, plus a few extra leaves to serve
1½ tbsp lemon juice
105ml olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
1 Medjool date (20g), pitted and soaked in 50ml of boiling water for about 20 minutes
2 tbsp cider vinegar
100g labneh (shop-bought, or see page 48 of Falastin: A Cookbook for homemade) or thick Greek-style yoghurt
35g feta, roughly crumbled Salt

Essential kit

You will need: a food processor

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Preheat the oven to 220°C fan.

Tightly wrap the beetroots and sweet potato individually in foil and bake for about 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the middle of each beetroot and the potato goes in easily. Timings will vary, depending on the size of the beetroots. Remove from the oven and, once cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skins of both vegetables. You should end up with around 180–200g of cooked sweet potato flesh and about 400g of beetroot. Roughly chop the beetroot into large chunks and set aside. The sweet potato can stay as it is. Keep the two separate, until needed.

Put the bulgur into a small saucepan, for which you have a lid, along with 75ml of water and ⅛ teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil on a high heat, then remove from the heat. Leave to sit, covered, for about 20 minutes, then fluff the bulgur up with a fork. Tip into a bowl and set aside for about 20 minutes, to cool. Stir in the pistachios, parsley, mint, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, ½ teaspoon of salt and a grind of black pepper. Set aside until needed.

Put 3 tablespoons of oil into a small sauté pan and place on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the spices, cook for another couple of seconds, stirring frequently, then remove from the heat. Set aside to slightly cool and then put into the bowl of a food processor. Add the beetroot, 1 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Remove the date from its water, add to the food processor and blitz the mixture for about 1 minute, or until smooth. Add the sweet potato and pulse for another 20 seconds, until just incorporated.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the cider vinegar and 50g of labneh. Fold to combine – you still want to see some streaks of the labneh – then spread out on a large platter or in a shallow bowl. With the back of a spoon, smooth out the surface and make a well in the centre. Top with the remaining 50g of labneh, swirling it gently through the mix without incorporating it too much. Fill the dip with the bulgur salsa, top with the feta and extra mint leaves, drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil and serve.

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From the book: Falastin: A Cookbook

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