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Turning Hummus Up a ‘Beet’

March 13, 2012

When nutrition experts urge us to include more colors on our plates, we don’t typically think of hues like “deep fuschia” or “mint green”, unless we’re talking about cotton candy or mint-chocolate-chip ice cream.

The color wheel expands with a blender, though. What this modern invention can do to traditional, whole foods is nothing short of magic!

Take my morning smoothies, for instance—the vivid shades of purples, greens, yellows, and reds from the various berries, veggies, and citrus fruits never cease to amaze me.

Inspired by my flashy breakfasts, I decided to give a little makeover to one of my favorite staples, beloved for its deliciousness, but sporting a rather muted, beige pallor: hummus. Could the simple addition of a few beets place this pale spread at the front of fun food fashion?

You be the judge:  Ms. Hummus polishes up quite nicely with a little rouge, doesn’t she?

I immediately served dollops of this ruby beauty atop scoops of brown rice for my roommates, with the hummus starring like bright kisses rather than fading into the background, like usual.  When they asked what on earth the beautiful sauce was, I had to grin at their surprised expressions when I answered, “Hummus.”

To match its new flair (and celebrate Oldways’ upcoming trip to Turkey!), I mirrored the rich color by adding the bright Turkish spice, baharat, to the beets while they cooked for the second batch. The earthiness of the beets, the zest of the hummus, and the warmth of the spices taste like a walk through the Mehari desert.

Hummus is a perfect canvas for playing with color and flavor. For bold pigments, try blending in things like steamed carrots, broccoli, green, red, or yellow peppers, purple potatoes, or saffron. For hidden gems of flavor, add parsnips, toasted anise seeds or blended fennel, ginger, extra lemon juice, leeks, melon, or a drop of rose water.

Beet Hummus Recipe:
2 beets, sliced into thin rounds, for quick cooking and easy blending
2 cloves of garlic, minced (to cook)
1 tablespoon Baharat
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons of wine
1 can (15oz) of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 extra clove of raw garlic
½ large lemon, juiced
A handful of parsley
Pinch of salt
Water, as needed for desired consistency

Toss the olive oil, wine, garlic, beet slices, and baharat in a pan. Cook on medium heat, covered, so that the wine steams the vegetables. Cook for about 5 minutes.

While cooking, put chickpeas, raw garlic clove, lemon juice, parsley, and salt into blender. Pulse blend until the chickpeas are crushed well (you’ll probably need to add a little bit of water to get it going). When the beets are soft to your fork, pour the beet medley and juices in blender. Now blend to a hummus consistency, adding a dash of water if needed.  -Enjoy

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Baharat is a spice mixture used in Arab cuisine, especially found in Turkish, Iranian, and Tunisian dishes. Baharat is the word for “spices” in Arabic. It is made using variations of spices, including fresh mint, saffron and dried rosebuds. You can find it as a mixed spice in the grocery store, or make your own with common items on your spice rack.

The following is a simple version of the spice that you can make at home and keep on your shelf for seasoning soups, beans, veggies, hummus and more.

Baharat Recipe
Mix the following finely ground ingredients:
4 parts black pepper
3 parts coriander seeds
3 parts cinnamon
3 parts cloves
4 parts cumin seeds
1 part cardamom pods
3 parts nutmeg
6 parts paprika


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