Borscht crostini

A modern spin on a very traditional Ashkenazi dish turns soup into a party-ready canape


Photo: Linda Pugliese

Whether served hot or cold, brimming with meat or completely vegetarian, the beet soup known as borscht has become a staple of the Ashkenazi Jewish repertoire. I love it, but do not fancy the cold version popular during the warm summer months. Instead, I transfer all the soup’s building blocks — roasted beets and carrots, pickled onions, fresh dill and garlic, and crème fraîche - from the soup bowl to a piece of crunchy toast. Each component can be prepped in advance and assembled just before serving.

  • Heat the oven to 230°C and line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  • Put the beets, carrots, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and a generous amount of pepper on the baking sheet and stir to coat.
  • Bake, tossing once with tongs, until the vegetables are tender, 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to the touch.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar, the lime juice, sugar, and a pinch of salt.
  • Add the onion slices and toss to coat. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, to soften and lightly pickle the onion. (Or cover and let sit in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.)
  • Place the dill, lemon zest, and garlic in a single mound on a cutting board and chop until the garlic is minced and the ingredients are well combined.
  • Turn the oven to 200°c. Brush one side of the bread slices with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and arrange on two large baking sheets.
  • Bake until crisp and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  • To assemble the crostini: spread each bread slice with about 1 tbsp of crème fraîche and top with a few pieces of beet and carrot and some pickled onion slices. Sprinkle with the dill mixture and more black pepper. Serve immediately.

    Recipe adapted from The Little Book of Jewish Appetisers, Chronicle Books


3 medium beets, peeled, halved, and cut into12-mm chunks

4 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-in [5-cm] lengths

3 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

60 ml fresh lime juice

2 tbsp sugar

1 small red onion, quartered through the root and sliced as thinly as possible

35g chopped fresh dill

Zest of 1 lemon

1 large garlic clove, coarsely chopped

12 Small, 12-mm-thick slices of sourdough or rye bread

One 225g container crème fraîche or sour cream

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