If you think about it, Thanksgiving is really a holiday for vegetarians. No, really! Take out that turkey centerpiece, and what are you left with? A vegetarian’s dream, that’s what.
Not only can most dishes on the Thanksgiving table be vegetarian, but there is also the willingness to make vegetable dishes that are typically shunned. Thanksgiving makes people adventurous! Are brussels sprouts really on everyone’s dinner table on any other day but that certain Thursday in November? Is cauliflower really that beloved? Can you even pronounce rutabaga and parsnips in February? Probably not, I gather (mostly from assumption), so we should all capitalize immediately!
Including me! I’m throwing beets into the mix! Beets can be so intimidating, I know. It’s the red. But once an easy roasting is done, you are left with an earthy, root vegetable flavor that can serve as a blank palette for anything.
Let’s be honest, this dip is perfect for the holiday plate. It adds such a pop of color, for one. But it also has an extremely balanced sweet, sour, salty flavor that it tastes amazing on pretty much anything I eat it with. Especially the zucchini biscuits that I’m planning on posting next week. Yep, we’re really taking these vegetarian Thanksgiving side dishes making by storm. This is what I call a Thanksgiving teaser.
Beet and Walnut Dip (recipe slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
4 small/medium beets, or 3 large beets, washed and trimmed
5 plump Medjool dates
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
salt, to taste
3 tablespoons creme fraiche, plain yogurt, or sour cream
Preheat the oven to 400F with a rack in the center. Scrub the meets thoroughly, and wrap individually in aluminum foil, still wet. Place all the beets on a baking sheet, and roast for 50-70 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. You will know that the beets are fully cooked when you can easily stick a fork through the beets.
Place the dates in a glass bowl, and pour about 2 tbsp. of warm water over dates. Jostle around a bit, and soak for at least 10 minutes.
When the beets are cooked and cool enough to peel, remove the skins (they will slide right off) and chop into cubes. Place in a food processor with the dates, walnuts, garlic, and lemon juice. Puree until the texture is to your liking. Add salt, to taste.
Serve swirled with the creme fraiche, and chill until ready to serve.