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Beet Keftedes and Lemon-Mint Tzatziki

I've served up variations of this made-in-heaven combo at Committee, the meze restaurant in Boston where I am consulting chef.
SERVES 8

Ingredients

  • 4 large beets peeled and coarsely grated (about 5 cups, tightly packed)
  • 2/3 cup fresh chopped mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2/3 cup chopped chives or spring onions including green part
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled Greek feta
  • 1/2 cup grated aged graviera cheese or other aged yellow sheep's milk cheese
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Dash of allspice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup plain fine breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • Flour for dredging
  • Olive oil for frying
  • For the lemon tzatziki
  • 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 5 strips lemon zest julienned
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin greek olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

Make the beet keftedes

  1. Combine the grated beets, herbs, spices and cheeses in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the breadcrumbs and flour and toss well. Add the egg, slightly beaten. Knead the mixture well.
  2. Take a heaping tablespoon of the mixture at a time and shape into 1 1/4-inch / 3-cm balls. Flatten each ball to a patty about 1/2-inch / 1.25 cm thick. Place on a tray, cover, and refrigerate for one hour.

While the beet keftedes are in the fridge, make the tzatziki

  1. Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil and blanch the julienned lemon zest for about 1 minute. Drain and repeat one more time. Drain and place back in the pot with a cup and a half of water and half a cup of sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the liquid is a thick syrup,about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and remove the lemon zest with a slottted spoon. Transfer to a cutting board and chop.
  2. Mix the yogurt, candied zest, mint, garlic, salt and olive oil together and set aside, refrigerated, until ready to serve.
  3. Remove the beets from the refrigerator. Season a cup and a half of plain flour with salt and pepper. Heat 1/2 inch /11/4 cm of olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet. Dredge the beet patties with flour on all sides and shake off the excess. Place a few at a time in the hot oil and fry over medium heat until lightly browned and lightly crisp on the outside, about 4-7 minutes total, flipping once to cook on both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels. Continue with remaining beet keftedes until done.
  4. Serve hot or at room temperature on a platter together with the lemon tzatziki.