Recipe: Beets with Garlic Sauce

Cooked giant white lima beans are another classic accompaniment to beets with garlic sauce.

Garlic Sauce (Skordalia)

Makes about 3 cups

• 1 1/2 pounds red or yellow waxy potatoes, pared and sliced into 2-inch chunks
    • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise, green sprout (if any) removed
    • About 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
    • 1/2 to 3/4 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil, to taste
    • 2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (optional)
    • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the potatoes, 3 garlic cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover by 1/2 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 25 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Replenish the water as necessary to keep the potatoes covered.

When the potatoes are cooked, place the remaining 5 cloves of garlic in a mortar or directly on the counter. Using a pestle, a flat stone, a meat pounder, or other pounding implement, smash the garlic roughly. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and continue mashing the garlic until it is reduced to a paste; you should have about 2 tablespoons. (Do not use a garlic press or allow the puree to sit more than 15 minutes or the flavor will be bitter.)

With a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked potatoes to the mortar or a mixer bowl and break them apart. Reserve the cooking liquid. Using a pestle, or an electric mixer on low speed, beat the potatoes until they are reduced to a coarse meal. (Do not attempt to do this in a food processor or the potatoes will become gummy). Dribble in cooking water (up to 3/4 cup) a little at time while beating the potatoes until they are reduced to a loose puree.

Blend the garlic puree, if pounded separately, into the potatoes. Beat in about 1/2 cup of the olive oil, lemon juice if desired, salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste. (The intensity of the garlic and the balance of salt will change as the skordalia sits. Adjust the seasoning before serving and add additional olive oil if desired.) Serve the garlic sauce warm or at room temperature. Just before serving, drizzle olive oil over the sauce.

Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Beets with Garlic Sauce

4 to 6 servings

• 2 pounds beets, cooked (see basic cooked beets recipe) and peeled
    • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    • Salt
    • Greek Garlic Sauce (Skordalia)

Cut the beets into 1/4-inch thick disks or wedges. Place in a bowl and toss to coat with the balsamic vinegar and salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, set bowls of the beets and garlic sauce out for guests to serve themselves onto little plates. Or arrange on a platter, with the garlic sauce in the middle.