Friday, 9 January 2015

Beetroot "hummus"

Beetroot "hummus"

Hummus is an amazing Middle Eastern creation, a delicious spread never missing at any Levantine table but also popular - and rightly - across the world.
Hummus is an Arabic word meaning chickpeas, and in fact the main ingredient of this dip is boiled and mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. And this "original", classic version is really very good! But, starting from the most simple of the recipes for hummus, it is possible to create almost infinite possible versions, adding spices, herbs or other ingredients or modifying the proportions of the basic ingredients or also, in the most extreme variations, not even using chickpeas. At the moment, one of my favorite interpretations of hummus is exactly of one these alternative versions, where is used beetroot (boiled or baked) instead of chickpeas. Plus the same ingredients as the basic hummus recipe: tahini, a paste made of sesame seeds - a staple of the Middle Eastern cuisine- which adds a lovely nutty flavor; a bit of olive oil (better if extra-virgin) to make the spread moist; lemon juice for a sour balance and garlic which adds a pungent flavor.
Well, when it comes to garlic, in this recipe like in many others, its flavor is a good and lovely addition; but personally I find a bit tough eating raw garlic and for this reason I usually prefer to add it whole or in big pieces to the mixture (and in general to any recipe calling for raw minced or crushed garlic) and remove it just before serving: doing this the final dish still has the garlic flavor - milder of course - but the digestive process is much easier.
As for the classic hummus, also beetroot "hummus" is fantastic with just these basic five ingredients (six if adding some salt, based on personal likings), but there is no limit to experimentation: try to add spices (from ground black pepper to cumin to za'atar to other spices of your liking) or/and herbs (for example parsley, coriander, chives, ...), or even add some pomegranate molasses to enhance the sweetness of the beets, or a bit of yogurt, cream or sour cream to make the dip smoother, or whatever your fantasy and taste suggest. Anyone can make his own recipe, just playing with proportions of the basic ingredients and/or addition of others.  
Beetroot "hummus"

With regard to the main ingredient, beetroot, to shorten the whole process it is possible to use pre-cooked or canned beetroot, but hummus made from beetroot that you cook yourself is - trust me - another, much more beautiful, story, especially at this time of the year when beets are in their full season. All you need is a couple of fresh beetroot (organic if possible) and a pan of boiling water: add the washed vegetable to the water and let simmer, covered, until tender but firm (they are ready when a skewer or a fork penetrate easily in the flesh, 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size); drain the beets, and cool for few minutes under running water, then peel. Alternatively you can bake the beets in the oven at 200 °C wrapped in aluminium foil (it will take a little longer but the result will be even more satisfying).
And now let's see how and when to serve beetroot "hummus". Like the chickpea version it can be served as part of a set of appetizer (the Middle Eastern mezze) with warm pitas or flatbreads - and this is my favorite way of having it. But you can also try it as a dip for veggies crudité, or in place of mayonnaise, butter or other sauces in sandwiches and wraps, or to accompany grilled meat or as an alternative dressing for salads (diluted with some water and additional olive oil). It is a very versatile thing, and so easy to make.
Final important element, the color of this spread is absolutely amazing! It is able to lighten up any table and any meal.
Beetroot "hummus"

Beetroot "hummus"
serves 4 to 6 as a starter
2 medium beetroot boiled and peeled, about 2 scant cups
80 ml tahini sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2  tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove crushed
Cut the beetroot into even pieces and place into a blender or food-processor with the other ingredients (I usually do not add the garlic at this stage - see the note below); pulse till you get a smooth paste.
If it is too thick, gently drizzle a little water into the mixture until just right.
Spoon into a serving bowl and serve with flatbread or pita, lightly warmed.
Note
For a milder flavor I prefer to add the garlic in big pieces after blending all the other ingredients and remove them  just before serving.


4 comments:

  1. I've made a version of this - the colour is amazing. Lovely way to use really fresh beetroots from the market.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Using fresh beetroots really makes the difference! The color and taste are amazing; I can have spoonfuls of it...

      Delete
  2. I just left a comment on Sally's... we love making this at home. Brilliant colour and taste. And Hummous is easy to make... that's the best part:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree Ishita, it is easy to make and good. I like to make it both for my family (me in particular because I love it) and guests.

      Delete