Festive Greek Beet-Yogurt Salad

I can’t imagine a more glamorous side for celebrations and general mood lifting. The textures, the flavors: sweet with beets, creamy with yogurt, tangy from lemon, earthy from garlic pounded with salt. Nestled on a bed of lightly steamed fresh beet greens, this recipe shouts Greek!  In our house it’s name is Beet Tzatziki and it always appears on the table at this time of the year.  If you are dairy-free, try coconut yogurt (I haven’t done this, but it should work!). In Greece this is often served with lamb of any kind. I serve it by itself and have been known to consume large quantities!

If you can find nice organic beets with truly fresh and alive greens, grab them. The recipe is easily adjustable and the amounts do not have to be exact.

Beet Tzatziki

3-4 good-sized organic beets with lively green tops 
2 –3 cloves fresh garlic
1 tsp coarse sea salt
3 C strained organic whole milk yogurt (Goat or Snowville Creamery A2 6% yogurt)
2-3 T fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
(Optional) 1/4 C chopped fresh dill

Six hours ahead of time place 4 C of organic whole goat or A2 milk yogurt in a yogurt strainer or very fine mesh sieve.  Allow to drain for 6 hours (or less if you don’t have time).  Drink the whey that drains off – it’s like buttermilk and oh so healthy.

Remove beet tops, leaving 1 inch of stem on beets. Steam beets in a steaming basket over water until a sharp fork is just able to pierce the beet – if the beets are very large, slice in half or quarters before steaming.  Do not overcook, slightly underdone is best. When cooked, run under cold water while squeezing the skin to remove it. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, peel the garlic and place in a mortar with the coarse sea salt. Pound until it is a smooth paste and set aside to mellow. There are many health benefits to allowing garlic to be chopped or mashed and rested before using.

Shred the beets. I use a wonderful julienne disc that came with my Breville food processor.  It makes shoe-string pieces of beet and relieves me from using the mandoline and all the associated fear of losing violin fingers! In a large bowl, combine the drained yogurt, garlic, lemon juice and pepper as well as dill if using. Add the shredded beet roots and stir with a spoon until you have a deep pink mixture. Watch your family admire the colors of this dish!  You might even get some little ones to try a vegetable!

Optional: Wash beet tops and remove the stem up to the edge of the leaf.  Steam in a large kettle, using the water clinging to the leaves and a little additional if necessary.  Steam just until the pink stem part is tender.  Immediately run under cold water to preserve color and allow to drain and cool. Make a circle of the chopped drained beet leaves and place the beet/yogurt mixture in a mound in the middle.  

NOTE: Many people who are sensitive to casein are able to tolerate cow milk from A2 Jersey cows. A2 protein is also found in goat, sheep, buffalo, and breast milk. Only in America did we develop the A1 milk because the cows produced more milk faster! Surprised?, I’m not!

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