I have learned so much from my friends. And the less my friends are like me, the more I seem to learn…about the world, about other cultures and even about myself. That difference is valuable and necessary. And undiscovered commonalities are shared gifts. That thinking with an open mind and loving with an open heart makes the world larger, kinder and far more interesting than I could ever have imagined.
And that brings me to Roasted Beet Hummus, my version of my friend Sasi’s delicious creation. Food is a magical thing, and Sasi and I both agree that food is a powerful weapon against hate and war. We’ll talk more on that in future posts, but for now we’ll concentrate on this yummy, strikingly beautiful hummus that will make everyone at the table friends for life.
But before we actually get down to the cooking, note that this recipe is easily halved. The quantity I made is pretty massive because hummus stores well; is perfect for a quick dinner, easy lunch or fancy snack; and makes the perfect neighborly surprise gift. In my mind, the more the merrier.
- Eight medium red beets, scrubbed, peeled and cut into one-inch chunks (You could also use golden beets, resulting in a milder flavor and totally different color.)
- Two to three tablespoons olive oil
- Large dash coarse sea salt
- Two cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained well (Do not use canned.)
- One fresh or dried bay leaf
- One tablespoon each, whole coriander and cumin seed, dry toasted and crushed
- Eight large cloves garlic, minced
- Eight tablespoons grated fresh ginger (Okay, we really like ginger; feel free to decrease this to suit your own tastes.)
- One teaspoon turmeric powder
- Two teaspoons coarse sea salt
- One-half cup tahini (I am picky about tahini. Once Whole Foods Market stopped making the fresh stuff, I found their signature 365 a good substitute. Another nice one is Artisana.)
- One-quarter cup olive oil
- Zest and juice of one large lemon
- Place the pre-soaked chickpeas in a large pot or Dutch oven with a generous amount of salted water and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and cook on low heat until very tender, from 45 minutes to one hour. Once the chickpeas are cooked, remove from heat and drain, reserving the cooking liquid. You will need at least one cup liquid to make the hummus. Set aside to cool. You can complete this step ahead by a day and keep the beans in the frig in their stock with the bay leaf until ready to use.
- Meanwhile, while the chickpeas are cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, if using a convection oven, or 450 degrees, if using a conventional oven. Toss the prepared beets with the two or three tablespoons of olive oil and the large dash of coarse sea salt. Place the beets on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet and roast 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your oven. Keep a close eye, as beets will burn easily. You want thoroughly cooked beets that pierce easily with a fork and have begun to caramelize. Stir halfway through roasting. When done, remove from oven and allow to cool. Again, you can do this ahead by one day and store in the frig.
- As the chickpeas and the beets cook, dry toast the coriander and the cumin seed until fragrant, three to five minutes, shaking the pan periodically so the spices don’t burn. Cool and crush the spices in a mortar and pestle with the two teaspoons of coarse sea salt. Combine the mixture with the turmeric, lemon zest, minced garlic and the grated ginger. Set aside. But don’t make this in advance, as spices will start to lose flavor rapidly.
- Using a food processor and working in batches, puree the chickpeas with a third of their reserved cooking liquid, spice mixture, tahini, lemon juice and roasted beets. In my small processor, this took several batches. As each batch purees, add a bit of the quarter-cup olive oil through the top tube so that it works in nicely. Just work patiently and do not overload the processor because you want everything smooth and very well combined in the end-no chunks of beans. Keep transferring your batches to one large bowl so that you can give the whole thing a good stir at the end.
Here is how I broke down the prep and cook times: For cooking, I'm considering boiling the beans and roasting the beets. Prep time is everything else. The time it takes to presoak the beans overnight is not considered.
The hummus will keep refrigerated for at least a week, travels well to parties and works as an appetizer or side dish.
So the bread I chose for this hummus is just like the white space I used to put in my graphic design creations—to give a blank canvas and breathing space for the star of the show—to balance drama with void. My bread of choice here is a classic unsalted Tuscan loaf that you can find in The Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition on page 606. I baked it up the day before and then cut it into little half toasts and baked it again for a few minutes to create crostini. The only change I made to the 75th edition recipe was keeping three-quarters cup bread flour instead of all-purpose flour in the overnight rise, which is in my old, old Joy, now falling apart. Of course, you can buy crostini or the bread from your favorite bakery, but give this a looksee. Not hard, so fresh and perfect with just a slather of creamy goat cheese and a big tablespoon of dramatic beet hummus.