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Yogurt Cheese with Roasted Beets and Feta

Photo: Thomas J. Story

Prep and Cook time 1 hr, 30 mins
Cool time 30 mins

Serves 6

This ultra-creamy, Middle Eastern–style appetizer dip created by cookbook author Janet Fletcher is also excellent with raw cucumbers. If you make your own yogurt cheese, you'll need to start it 24 hours ahead of making this dish.


  • 3/4 pound red beets
  • 3/4 pound golden beets
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 6 whole allspice berries
  • 4 small garlic cloves, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade Yogurt Cheese or purchased yogurt cheese (also called labne)
  • About 3/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt, divided
  • About 4 1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons roasted, salted hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons zaatar* (Middle Eastern spice blend)
  • 1/8 teaspoon medium-hot coarse red pepper, such as Aleppo*, or hot paprika
  • Pita or naan bread

Nutrition Information

  • calories 247
  • caloriesfromfat 0.0 %
  • protein 8.3 g
  • fat 19 g
  • satfat 6.1 g
  • carbohydrate 12 g
  • fiber 2.4 g
  • sodium 380 mg
  • cholesterol 23 mg

How to Make It

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Trim beet stems, if attached, leaving about 1/4 in. Put red and golden beets in separate baking dishes. To each, add 2 tbsp. vinegar, 3 allspice berries, 1 garlic clove, lightly crushed, and 1/4 in. boiling water. Cover tightly with foil and bake until beets are tender when pierced, about 1 hour. Let cool. Peel beets, slice into slim wedges, and put in separate bowls.

  2. Grate or mince remaining 2 garlic cloves (Fletcher recommends using a Microplane.) Stir half into yogurt cheese with 1/2 tsp. salt and about 2 tsp. oil.

  3. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 2 tsp. vinegar, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 2 tbsp. oil; set dressing aside. Toast fennel seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat, swirling often, until a shade darker, 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool, then pound in a mortar until fine. Add to dressing.

  4. Dress red and golden beets separately with vinaigrette, adding just enough to coat them lightly. (You may not need it all.) Add more salt to taste if you like.

  5. With a rubber spatula, spread yogurt cheese about 1/2 in. thick on 1 side of a platter, creating some indentations where oil can pool. Sprinkle with feta, then drizzle with 2 tbsp. oil and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Arrange beets next to yogurt cheese and spoon a little more dressing over them. Sprinkle everything with zaatar and red pepper. Serve with pita bread.

  6. * Find at well-stocked grocery stores and