Easy Beet "Pesto"

I adapted this striking beet pesto recipe from Jules Clancy's amazing book Five Ingredients, Ten Minutes which just this month was re-released by Penguin Publishing.

The shocking bright red color alone makes it stand out far above all other spreads and dips. And there's something particularly interesting in the flavor contrast between the beets' natural sweetness and the sharp bite of parmesan cheese and garlic. It's perfect: an easy-to-make spread that "beets" store-bought junk food by a country mile.

And I promise you, put this out at your next party your guests will inhale it. I can't believe there are recipes out there that are this easy and this delicious.

Beet Pesto

10 ounces cooked beets (a 15 ounce can, drained)
2 garlic cloves
2 ounces walnuts or pine nuts (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
3 ounces parmesan cheese (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
A few shakes of salt, to taste

1) Add drained beets, garlic, nuts and cheese to a food processor, pulse till blended well.

2) Add olive oil, a splash at a time, until your spread reaches your desired consistency. Garnish with optional dried chives, and serve with simple crackers or fresh veggies.

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer.

Recipe Notes:
1) You'll notice slightly vague volume measures for the ingredients above. Don't worry: it's on purpose. The great thing about pestos and spreads is you can adjust the ingredients until you get the taste and texture you want. Too thick? Add more oil. Too thin? Add more nuts or beets. Want more bite? Add another garlic clove or more parmesan cheese.

2) Nuts: I recommend using a mild, high-fat nut and walnuts or pine nuts are ideal. I'd recommend against using drier nuts such as almonds, or strong-tasting nuts such as peanuts.

3) Feel free to use fresh beets! I used canned beets simply because it was a cheap and easy solution, but if you have time, beets you've cooked (or even grown) yourself would be even more flavorful. Also, separately, keep in mind that a 15 ounce can of beets, once drained, will contain about 10-11 ounces of beets, which is exactly the amount this recipe calls for.

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