Beet Caviar

Beet Caviar Recipe

I'm lucky to be the occasional recipient of Josey Baker experimentations. The other day Josey handed me a still-hot loaf of 100% einkorn bread - substantial, fragrant, a dark brown crumb with a craggy top-crust. It smelled like a great brewery - all malt, and grain, and warmth. And it begged to be treated right. The first question to come to mind was slicing strategy...the consensus was: 1) Allow the bread to cool completely. 2) With this loaf - not too thick, not too thin. Not to digress too much, but when it comes to toast, the thickness or thinness of the slice is key. Some breads lend themselves to a thick slab - Blue Bottle Cafe (in downtown San Francisco) cooks an egg-in-the hole of Acme's pain de mie. Perfect. There are other breads I like thinly sliced and extra-toasted - Josey's rye comes to mind, also Anna's Daughters' Rye - a beautifully distinctive local bread. Once this was sorted, Josey got on with his afternoon, and I started thinking about what I'd eventually put on the bread. Silvena Rowe's book had been in my bag for a few days, I was reading it when I was on the bus, or waiting on a coffee. So I started paging through, and settled on a beet spread I knew would be beautiful - the sweet earthiness of the roasted beets accented with toasted walnuts, chives, dates, a bit of booziness, and a swirl of creme fraiche.

Beet Caviar RecipeBeet Caviar RecipeBeet Caviar RecipeBeet Caviar Recipe

Silvena has written a couple of other books I have in my library - I suspect a good number of you might find them inspiring as well. I first purchased Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume: Cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean, and then Orient Express: Fast Food from the Eastern Mediterranean.

The beet caviar was a nice accompaniment to the einkorn, and I imagine it would be brilliant as a spread or dollop on just about anything - from toasted pita, to a harvest soup. A swirl would be nice in risotto, or as part of a mezze spread. Enjoy!

Beet Caviar

If you have bourbon or vodka on hand, you can use one of those in place of the cognac.

4 medium beets, washed and trimmed
5 plump dates, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons cognac (bourbon, or vodka)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3 tablespoons creme fraiche, plain yogurt, or sour cream

lots of freshly chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 400F with a rack in the center. Puncture the beets with a fork a few times, and roast for an hour, or until the beets are completely tender when you test by cutting into the center with a knife.

In the meantime, gently heat the cognac in a small saucepan. Place the dates in a glass bowl, and, when just hot, pour the alcohol over the 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 and chop into cubes. Place in a food processor with the dates, cognac, and garlic. Puree until the texture is to your liking - I left a bit of texture here, but you can go smoother if you prefer.

Transfer to a serving bowl before adding the lemon juice, walnuts, and salt. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve swirled with the creme fraiche, and finished with chives.

Serves 6.

Adapted from The Eastern and Central European Kitchen: Contemporary and Classic recipes by Silvena Rowe (2007).

Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 60 min

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Yum! Brandy (cognac is brandy) works too and if tofutti "cream cheese" or "sour cream" is used it becomes a vegan dish.


Beautiful colours and a wonderful blend of flavours going there. I use a lot of beets for my salads and dips and this caviar is something I would love to make for my millet pita breads. Thank you for the recipe.

sangeeta khanna

Oh my! This sounds soo good. Thanks again for another amazing recipe :)


I am always left with an abundance of beets in fall. A recipe like this would suit me perfectly! Plus, it's gorgeous!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

Oh my, this looks incredible. These colours!


This looks divine. I've never included alcohol in a spread, so I'm interested to see if the taste is very pungent or not.

Maggie @ Veg Fiend

So you don't pulse the walnuts with the beet - the walnuts are added separately?

Hi Arundhati - I added them toward the end. Although, if you prefer a smooth textured spread, you could certainly add them earlier.


Yummy! Are the dates fresh or dried though?

Hi Ari - they are dried. Enjoy!


I make an almost the same spread all the time. The only difference is I use prunes instead of dates and mayo instead of sour cream. Even my 8 year old loves it.


Could you sub almonds for the walnuts? any other nut?


I always get beets, then have no idea what to do with them! This is so perfect.

Abby @ The Frosted Vegan

I would love to try this recipe. I have dried figs in the house right now. How about using figs as a substitute for the dates?


This looks beyond tasty. My mom and I are already huge fans of roasted beets, so this is a must have in our book!

Ramon M.

Is there a non-alcoholic substitution for the cognac? Veg broth, maybe?


I can just imagine the taste - kind of earthy/nutty and slightly sweet spread over the dense bread. Perfection.

Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth

I have made 100% Einkorn bread and it's a very heavy loaf. Mine didn't cut well at all. I used a sourdough starter with it so that could be why. I have had to resort to using Spelt with the Einkorn to make it useable. Definitely will try this spread as well!!


Beautiful spread. It's simple but packed with flavor. I make a similar roasted walnut-beet sauce with a Middle Eastern flavor profile. Must try this on toast next time though.

Katie @ Whole Nourishment

This looks like fabulous party food! I wonder if port might also be a nice sub for the cognac?


Ahhh...sweet beets can you ever go wrong with these? We love them caviar style as well, one Thanksgiving we combined with fresh cranberries and gelatin the taste and presentation was a hit. Happy feasting!


This looks beautiful and I just have to say we're devotes of your site; we cook from it many times every week. Is the garlic added raw or roasted with the beets?

Thank you Rosa! On the garlic front - you could go either way, really.


Heidi, for those of us who don't eat bread or grains what do you suggest as a dipper?
I just LOVE beets.


I believe this recipe is of Georgian descent. That cuisine uses walnuts in everything.


Yummy! Morito Tapas bar in London does a similar beetroot hummus with Feta, walnuts & dill on top! I still have beets in the ground so maybe this is their destiny! :)

Gemma @ Well Seasoned

To make it vegan,would you suggest a substitute for the cream, or omitting it all together?



Tried this & added a little Za'atar on top = amazing! What is the other dip in the picture? Is it a walnut dip? Recipe?


Made something similar to this and slathered it all over pizza... I love that you added craime fraiche though :)


I recently discovered that I DO like beets after all (at least when cooked with lots of garlic as they are in Greece). I can't wait to try veganizing this with some vegan sour cream.

Wendy @ The Nomadic Vegan

This worked beautifully, Heidi. Will try roasting the garlic next time. Thanks!


Always delish! A Russian-style delight-I'm familiar with being married to one-- Scandinavians also love their beets as do the Brits sliced into their summer salads tho curiously they always refer to it as 'beetroot' rather than beets!
Wld imagine on that last ingredient one cld also use Tzatziki (Greek yoghurt, cucumber, garlic & dill) -less calories & while one can buy ready made (TJs always has it) its easliy made at home.


I'm a huge fan of Josey Baker bread -- and I love the idea of finding new and unique spreads to put on it. This reminds me of things my mom makes -- gorgeous color, too.


goodness gracious, I'm thinking that the bread bake is going to have to be put off by an hour or two today so that I can make a batch of this to slather on today's einkorn!!! looks ridiculously good Heidi, thanks so much for sharing.

xo Josey!

Josey Baker

You ARE lucky! His bread is amazing. I miss the Mill so much. And this looks equally amazing and I must try it soon.


WOW... making this, making this, making this!
pinned. Valentina


This was amazing! I had dried figs so I used them instead of dates. Used half the walnuts because I wanted fewer calories. Used greek yogurt instead of crème fraiche because the latter is too expensive. The result? A sheer delight. I ate it up with a spoon. Can't wait to make for guests - the perfect appetizer!


Aahhhhh..another dish with simple execution that has amazing flavor! And a new way to bake beets. Always thought they had to be in a covered dish with water. Well they don't. Thank you for sharing a new way to enjoy beets.


This looks beautiful and delicious! Can't wait to try it on some homemade whole grain bread. Mahalo for sharing!


Wow looks amazing! I have so many beets in my veggie box, this is the perfect way to use them! Thanks!

Rahel @ The Conscious Dietitian

I plan to make this for Thanksgiving; How far in advance may I make this without spoiling?


This looked and sounded amazing but I made it- following recipe exactly- and was disappointed. I am usually a fan of garlic but the raw garlic was quite overpowering. If I made it again I would cut back on the garlic a lot and perhaps temper it my mashing it into a paste with the salt first.. Overall I and my Thanksgiving guests found the flavor experience just didn't match the mouth-watering visuals...


Really nice spread. i blended the toasted walnuts into the beets and pureed it all together. Added just a dash of Sriracha and some Greek yogurt at the end.


I'm a fan of Josey Baker bread. i really like spread. And I love to see this unique one. I'll try this one.

Georgia Leon

I just made this and it's is DELICIOUS. I sent the recipe to my boyfriend who informed me that this is very similar to a traditional New Years dish his mother prepares in Belarus. He was pleasantly surprised that it's waiting for him at home :-)


just made it (altering the proportions a little bit: 2 large beets, 1T maple syrup, 2 garlic cloves, 1T lemon juice, omitting the cognac) - so so so good! i am pondering various options as to what to slather this on next - perhaps a broiled salmon fillet / quinoa pasta. definitely a keeper!


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