Comfort food is often the food that reminds us of home, of the country where we grew up. To me, beets aka beetroots count as one of my comfort foods. Growing up, I just loved eating beets, especially pickled beets and I liked them even more than pickled cucumbers and cornichons, which I loved too. Back then, we often enjoyed pickled veggies such as beets (you know, the crinkle-cut version) as a side dish at dinner time which mostly consisted of thick slices of fresh bread, an assortment of cheeses and cold cuts. Which, of course was perfectly allright and made me happy.
But times change and so do tastes and although I still consider beets to be part of my comfort food universe, I also love them served in many other different ways. Of course, you wouldn’t do a beet justice by simply enjoying it pickled in what I consider today to be a rather punchy, albeit pleasantly punchy, pickling liquid, squashed together with obiqutous slices of sharp white onions and mustard seeds in a big fat glass jar with a screw cap. There is more to beets than that. You can roast these lovely veggies to sweet perfection. You can turn them into soup (think Borscht here). Or slice them onto Pizza or Flammkuchen (Tarte flambée), eat them raw (Beet Carpaccio) or cooked.
Belonging to the same family as chard and spinach, both the leaves and the root can be eaten. While the leaves have a pleasantly bitter taste, the round roots are sweet. Typically a rich purple color, beets can also be white or golden.
Although comfort food means that we still enjoy things we loved in the past, most of us do not mind moving on every once in a while, leaving the comfort zone (if you want to call it that) and venture out to new recipes that still have a comfort factor (like a beloved ingredient) but that interpret the comfort foods from our childhood in a new way. In the spirit of broadening my culinary horizon and all the while keeping in mind that I love beets, over the years, I have tried many recipes with beets as the star ingredient. I have made soups and salads, cakes and brownies, took the sweet as well as the savory route, paired them with herbs or dark chocolate. Because, at the end of the day, if you do cook with beets, you gotta love them, as their earthy sweetness will always be present in your dishes, no matter which way you interpret them.
Which leads me to today's recipe, my version of a Red Beet Hummus, which, in turn, believe it or not, the kids just love, and who knows, maybe it will rank as one of their comfort foods one day. In this recipe there is no chickpeas and no yogurt , which many recipe call for. I find the taste of the beets is nicely complemented by just lemon juice and a bit of fresh zest.
So onto this recipe for my colorful red beet hummus made with cooked red beets, tahini, freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest, and just a touch of garlic (which, you can skip if you do not like to cook with garlic), cumin, black pepper and salt. If you like the earthy taste of beets, and you like hummus, you’ll love this beet hummus.
It’s also very simple to make. Once you have cooked your beets, all that's left to do is putting everything into a food processor or blender and whisking away. It also keeps for a few days in the fridge, making it the perfect weekday lunch solution or take-along snack.
Red Beet Hummus
- 4 red beets (M), scrubbed clean and roasted OR cooked
- 2 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 5 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (or use less to taste)
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 tbsp cumin, ground
- ½ tbsp lemon zest (froma about 1 lemon, organic is best)
- a good glug of extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- To roast them in the oven: heat oven to 190°C (375°F). Trim the leaves and most of stalks off the beets, leaving a stump of stalk on each. Wrap the beets individually in pieces of baking parchment, then in foil and place them on a baking tray. Roast for about 60 to 90 minutes (depending on their size) or until the point of a sharp knife can be easily inserted, then leave to cool. Unwrap, peel and trim the stalks away from the beets. OR cook the beets, cut off most of the tops, scrub the roots clean and place them in a covered dish with about 6 cm of water in a 190°C (375°F) oven, and cook until easily pierced with a knife or fork. OR, cover with water in a sauce pan and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. OR if time is of the essence, use good-quality, store-bought, beets, drain on kitchen towels and proceed with the recipe. NOTE: when boiling beetroot, leave the beets with their root ends and a bit of their stem attached and don't peel them until after cooking since beet juice can stain your skin. If, however, your hands become stained during preparation and cooking beets, rub some lemon juice over them to help remove the color OR do wear kitchen gloves.
- Once the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and chop them. Place them in a food processor (or blender) together will all the other ingredients and pulse until smooth OR until your beet hummus has the consistency you're happy with.
- Taste and adjust seasonings and ingredients as desired.
- Chill and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Serve with freshly cut veggies for dipping or as a base for oven-roasted veggies such thick slices of cauliflower or go with crackers (homemade or store-bought) or grilled slices of baguette. For fresh veggies, I prefer a somewhat coarser hummus, with roasted veggies, I go with really smooth hummus - just process away to your hearts content. If you're looking for a cracker recipe, go HERE.
For more inspirations with respect to recipes using beets, you can take a look at these:
Red Beet Top & Goat’s Cheese Bruschetta (HERE) ( a Kitchen Lioness original - see pic above)
Chocolate and Beet Brownies; Beet and Cumin Soup with Spiced Yogurt and another version of Beetroot Hummus - with yogurt (HERE) (three Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipes)
Beetroot with Walnut and Cumin (HERE) (another HFW recipe)
Beetroot Seed Cake (HERE) (a Nigel Slater recipe)
Extremely Moist Chocolate-Beetroot Cake with Crème Fraîche and Poppy Seeds (HERE) (another Nigel Slater recipe)
Lime Honey Beet Salad (HERE) (a Dorie Greenspan recipe that we made many moons ago for our Fridays with Dorie online group)