Smoked Beets, Pesto, Burrata, Peach, Dukkah


Whenever there is something with beets on the menu in a restaurant, I take it. It’s also the easiest way to my heart on a personal level – beets, burrata, good quality olive oil, fresh herbs and a bottle of wine, and I’m yours. I don’t know when it started, but over the years, these little ones have become one of my favourite foods ever. You might think I’m weird now – I’m not, promise – I just really really like them. The versatility, the texture, the colour, the flavour, and especially those smoked, blistered and sweet. When you smoke, or roast, them in the oven, the skin loosens, crisps up and the inside becomes soft and lightly sweet(er), a combination to die for. No surprise I eat these at least once a week.

The combination of these charred, crispy and soft beets with creamy cheese, juicy peach, a hint of pesto and crunchy herby dukkah is what I dream of all the time. It’s what you’d find in a fancy restaurant, yet which is so so easy to make at home. Do keep in mind beets take a (very) long time to cook – something one of my sister’s friends keeps reminding me of, after she had her starter with beets for dessert because she did not realise they had to cook for so long and thus all the other courses had already been finished by the time the beets were finally cooked through. Oops.

Smoked Beets with Pesto, Burrata, Peach and Dukkah
For 2

2 small red beets
2 tbs olive oil
1 bal burrata
2 tbs (home made) basil pesto
1 peach
Fresh mint
Red shiso leaves, optional
Freshly ground black pepper

2 tbs hazelnuts
1 tbs sesame seeds
1 tbs coriander seeds
1/2 tbs cumin seeds
1/4 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

If you are to smoke your beets, follow the instructions you have. If not, simply preheat the oven to 250C. Pierce beets with a fork, rub with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in the oven for about 50-70 minutes (depending on the size), rotating a couple of times in between, until slightly charred and completely cooked through.

In the meantime, make the dukkah. Separately (because of the burning), toast the hazelnuts, sesame seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a dry skillet. Toast until they start to brown and ‘dance in the pan’.
Lightly grind/crush all together and mix with the salt and pepper.

Let the beets cool slightly. Cut peach with a mandoline or sharp knife in very thin slices. Spread 1 tbs pesto on a plate. Cut the beets in wedges and place these on top. Add half a bal of burrata, some of those peach slices, fresh mint and shiso leaves, and finish with a drizzle of good quality olive oil and a tsp dukkah.

Renee Kemps