When I was a little girl, my favorite restaurant was a steakhouse in my hometown called the Sawmill. The interior was one of those 1980’s restaurants with no windows, an open kitchen, dim lighting, a terrarium, rough-hewn wood beams and leather club chairs, but to very small me it was heaven. I always ordered a steak sandwich and a Shirley Temple (in a short glass, with extra cherries), but what really made the restaurant my favorite was the old fashioned salad bar. Young children don’t usually have that much control over what they eat, but at a salad bar I was master of my destiny. After much trial and error (what is the POINT of baby corn?) I settled on the winning combination of romaine lettuce, spinach (this was before the era of ubiquitous mixed greens), chick peas, scallions, croutons, bacon bits, blue cheese dressing and beets. This was a particular treat because we NEVER had beets at home — to this day my father claims to be allergic based on a rash he got in 1948 (and to this day, I remain skeptical about the existence of such an allergy), and I loved their earthy sweetness.
Fast forward to 2006, and when enjoying a lovely (outdoor) dinner at a local Greek restaurant in Los Angeles, I discovered Patzaria — a Greek spread made from yogurt and beets. Spread on toasted pita bread, the sweetness of the beets tempered by the tang of the yogurt, this spread was my favorite beet dish I had had since those childhood salads. So I decided to reconcile the two experiences, and come up with my own patzaria that replicates the flavors of my childhood nostalgia with a modern Greek spin.
The result is this — an American Patzaria. Roasted beets with yogurt, yes, but add the blue cheese and bacon from the Sawmill’s salad bar, and you have something very special indeed. Instead of the overwhelming sweetness that can dominate some beet dishes, the salty pungency of the blue cheese and the smokiness of the bacon add balance, and the whole is salty, smoky, sweet and addictive. Served on triangles of toasted pita, this disappeared alarmingly fast in our household — I don’t know if it was the sweetness of the beets or the lurid magenta color they imparted to the yogurt base, but the Nuni repeatedly asked for more.
The Sawmill is long closed, but at least I can introduce my daughter to the wonder of beets. Now all we have to find is an old school salad bar. Has anyone seen baby corn lately?
- 2 medium beets
- 1 cup nonfat Greek style yogurt
- 1.5 ounces blue cheese, finely crumbled
- 2 pieces bacon
- 1 tablespoon chives, finely minced
- 3 pieces pita bread, lightly toasted
- Scrub the beets, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, enclose in a foil packet and roast at 350 degrees for 40 minutes to an hour, or until tender. Let cool and chop into a fine dice.
- Fry the bacon until crisp. Let cool, and chop finely.
- Combine the yogurt and the blue cheese in a small bowl and mash with a fork until the cheese in incorporated into the yogurt.
- Add the chopped beets, bacon and the chives. Mix thoroughly until the entire mixture is a rather alarming magenta hue (this actually helps convince 3 year old girls to eat it, believe it or not). The mixture may be covered and stored in the refrigerator right away, or eaten immediately.
- Serve with toasted pita triangles. Enjoy.
(As a housekeeping note, I’m giving away a set of Oxo Tools and you have until 11:59 Pacific Time Wednesday to enter! What are you waiting for?)
I love beets! This sounds great.
Salad bar = Souplantation. Although somehow I can’t imagine you there. 😉
I don’t think this recipe would work without the bacon. 🙁
There’s a steakhouse where my in-laws live that we also go to when we are there for Passover and it has a great salad bar, but no baby corn if you are keeping Passover.
I love beets and i was out on the web looking for new beet recipes and came across your site. I have to try this and let you know how it goes. I recently posted a Picked Red Beet Recipes: http://delishhh.com/?p=358
Hope to talk to you soon again.
do you think this would work with rutabgas or cucmber????
Wow, that looks really good.
I love beets too, particularly Marcella’s salad that uses both the beets and the beet greens.
This looks so good – and pretty too.
I’m thinking it would work well as a sort of condiment/salad at an outdoor summer lunch when everyone’s drinking cold white wine and little bits of this and little bits of that.
What an interesting flavour combination for a dip. I will have to try it!
Hi, Kate! LOVE your site and hope it’s okay that I linked back to this recipe today; it looks delicious, and I hope to try it this summer.
Thanks so much!
I have recently discovered that I like beets. I love dip type things of all type especially when they involve vegetables. I really want to try this 🙂
I have to say I´m useless at cooking, so any time I tried to cook something I just couldn´t get it right so I always ended really frustrated, and then one day searching in the internet I found your website, I was so easy following your instructions, it really made things easier for me, I´m so grateful. I normally use Spanish cheese when I cook, they are amazing, I´m sure you are going to love it.