You don’t need to have dined at the New York City-based restaurant Jack’s Wife Freda (there are two locations in downtown Manhattan) to know it. Like all of the world’s best restaurants, it nails the crucial — but hard to consistently achieve — elements that make a restaurant great. The food and drinks are straightforward but flavorful, the service is friendly, the lighting is flattering, and there is a steady bustle about the place but it’s never too loud.
It’s like a dinner party with a bunch of strangers: I’ve sat in a corner booth on a date, made new friends there, and hosted small parties with pals at the central table — even though I live miles away. It’s a neighborhood restaurant for all of New York.
This month, owners Maya and Dean Jankelowitz (along with contributor Julia Jaksic) release their first book, Jack's Wife Freda: Cooking From New York's West Village. In it, fans will find many of their favorite dishes from the menu, including the kefta kebabs, haloumi, rack of lamb, and gooey malva pudding. But like the restaurant, the book isn’t just for those who live in the neighborhood. It’s for anyone who loves throwing a party over a simple meal. Here now, a recipe for the restaurant’s popular beet dip — which is like a bright pink hummus without the chickpeas. It’s great as part of a party spread or even solo for lunch with a simple salad.
Beet DipYields 2 to 3 cups
This is a great recipe for entertaining as it can be made ahead of time and can sit out for quite a while. Plus its beautiful rich magenta color is a showstopper. The natural sweetness of the beets is balanced by the nuttiness of the tahini in this unexpected alternative to standard hummus. It’s best served with toasted pita triangles or chips.
1½ pounds beets (roughly 3 medium beets)
8 garlic cloves
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon za’atar
2 tablespoons crumbled feta
Pita, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Peel the beets and cut into quarters. In a small bowl, toss with the garlic and olive oil and place in a baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 30 minutes. The beets will be very tender when a small knife is inserted in the middle (be sure to test out a few larger pieces); if the beets are not easily pierced, roast for an additional 15 minutes and test again.
Once the beets and garlic cool slightly, place them in a food processor and blend until combined. Add the tahini, lemon juice, and salt and blend again, scraping any bits off the sides. Blend again, pouring the olive oil in a slow stream into the food processor while the mixture is blending. Once all the ingredients are added, continue to blend for 3 minutes or until the mixture is very smooth. Transfer to a plate for serving or into a container and refrigerate.
To serve, sprinkle za’atar over the dip, add the crumbled feta cheese on top, and finish with a hefty splash of extra-virgin olive oil.
From JACK’S WIFE FREDA: Cooking from New York’s West Village by Maya and Dean Jankelowitz. Recipes by Julia Jaksic. Published by Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by NoamBennyLLC
• All Cookbook Coverage [E]