Beet me up, Scotty

Introducing Jerusalem Syndrome
My husband and I were on a road trip a little over a year ago listening to one of my favorite podcasts, America’s Test Kitchen. The episode featured an interview with Yotam Ottololenghi discussing his new cookbook, Jerusalem. I was captivated by the way he spoke so lovingly of the cuisine of his birth city.

This was clearly a man man who took Middle Eastern food seriously and was totally passionate about cooking and eating it. I wanted to get my hands on the cookbook fast and was pleased when my husband gifted it to me as an early Christmas present a few weeks later.

Jerusalem Syndrome is a condition characterized by psychotic episodes and religious delusions spurred by a visit to the city of Jerusalem. When I received the cookbook, I became completely infatuated and cooked numerous recipes from it within days. Completely enthralled by its delectable dishes, beautiful photography and prose, I began to exhibit symptoms of a different type of Jerusalem Syndrome. Apparently I’m not the only one “suffering” from this condition.

By my count, the cookbook contains roughly 127 recipes. So far, I’ve cooked/prepared about 11 of them. Join me as I work my way through more!

Props to Julie Powell of Julie & Julia fame for this blog’s concept!

Photo from

Beet me up, Scotty
I love beets. Earthy, slightly sweet, and so versatile. Middle Eastern cuisine makes excellent use of them, but they’re not uncommon as both the featured and complementary ingredient in numerous international cuisines. Recently, NPR’s The Salt blog reported that Sochi Olympics organizers anticipate serving 70,000 gallons of the classic beet-centric Russian soup borscht.

According to Jerusalem-bred, London-based chefs and authors of Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, “the beet is one of very few vegetables with a strong presence in the cuisine of almost every group in Jerusalem.” Beets appear repeatedly in all three of their cookbooks, and the recipes I have tried so far are delicious—better than any beet dish I’ve been served in restaurants.

Not Your Average Beet Dish
The beet has been one of the trendiest vegetables in the last few years and I’ve yet to eat a dish featuring it that I don’t like. Beet salads recipes abound but I’ve never prepared a beet dish where the beets are puréed. That’s where the Puréed Beets with Yogurt and Za’atar recipe from Jerusalem comes into play.

Since I am not interested in infringing on the cookbook’s copyright, I will not print the recipe* but here’s a partial list of the ingredients involved that aren’t mentioned in the recipe’s name:

  • garlic
  • za’atar (a common Middle Eastern spice)
  • date syrup
  • hazelnuts
  • goat cheese

Put ‘em together and whady’a get, bippity boppity BEET PURÉE! Delicious beet puree, at that. Not that I mind following more complicated recipes, but preparing this was simple and it came out swimmingly. After roasting the beets, I used a food processor to blend them with a few of the other ingredients and then transferred that to a bowl to mix it in with the others. The authors advise serving it with bread or as part of a meze plate. I ate it alone but it was so good it didn’t need a date for the party!

pureed beets

* Buy it from Amazon
* Buy it from Barnes and Noble
(I am not affiliated with the cookbook authors or publishers in any way but I love this book and wholeheartedly recommend its purchase!)



  1. Ha, hah! I had summadat when you brought it to us at Truckee! It was fabulous! What are the names of the dishes you, J.Todd, and/or Elena made in November? I think it was so cute the way there were two copies of the Jerusalem Cookbook in use that day!

    1. Summadat, summadat, summa-daaat! In November we made the turkey & zucchini burgers as well as the roasted eggplant with fried onion and chopped lemon. There might have been one other dish but I can’t remember what it was…

  2. I used hot sauce instead of “red chile, seeded and minced”.
    I made my own za’atar seasoning–two versions–one with thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, and salt and the other with those ingredients plus marjoram and oregano. I found many other recipes using this incredible seasoning.

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