The garlic sauce is a Greek dish called "skordalia" (Prounounced: "score-tha-LEE-ya"). There are several versions of skordalia. At its root, skordalia is a sauce that is heavily seasoned with raw garlic. You'll see recipes that call for potatoes, bread, nuts and/or eggs as the thickener. Traditionally this sauce is made in a mortar and pounded by hand, but most modern cooks will use a blender, food processer or mixer (stand or handheld).
My version of skordalia ia adapted from The Greek Vegetarian by Diane Kochilas. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to cook Greek vegetarian meals. There's more to Greek cooking than gyros and spinach pie!
To cook my beets, I use a non-traditional technique (at least it's not one I see elsewhere very often). I cut the root end and leaf end off the raw beets. Using a vegetable peeler, I peel the raw beets. Then I cut them into slices, wedges or whatever other shape I want. (The beets will be very hard, so be sure to use a sharp knife and be careful not to hurt yourself.) I lay the beets in a single layer in a baking dish and add about a 1/4 cup of water. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in a 375-degree oven until the beets are tender (about 30-45 minutes depending the age and cut of the beets).
Beets with Skordalia
Serves 4-6 (more if being used as part of an appetizer spread)
- 1-2 bunches of beets (enough for about 1-2 beets per person, depending on the size of the beet)
- 12 ounces of potatoes (russets or yukon golds), about 2 large russets
- 4 -6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed in a garlic press
- 1/2 cup of toasted walnuts or hazelnuts, chopped fine
- juice of 1 lemon
- approximately 1/2 cup olive oil
- approximately 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
Make the skordalia: Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks. Put in a pot of salted water and bring to a simmer. Cook until tender and then drain.
Put the potatoes into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachement (or use a large bowl and a hand mixer). Add the garlic, nuts, and lemon juice. With the paddle, mash the potatoes together with these ingredients. With the mixer running on low, blend in half the oil and half the vinegar. Stop the mixer and taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Turn the mixer back on and blend in more oil until the mixture is slightly fluffy and airy (lighter than mashed potatoes). Turn off the mixer and taste again. Add in more salt or vinegar if needed: you want a blend of salty, sour and garlicky.
Serve the beets on a bed of skordalia, or with it on the side. If desired, garnish with more chopped nuts or chopped parsley or dill.
If you have any leftovers, make a quick "hash". Chop up the beets and mix them together with leftover skordalia. Put the mixture in a non-stick skillet with a wee bit of olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute on both sides until crispy. Serve with a fried egg (I also made a quick "sauce" of parsley, more garlic and red wine vinegar to spoon over the top).