As promised: the chickpea-less hummus recipe!
Strange, right? But this beet “hummus” is lusciously tangy and bright, with a smooth yet substantial hummus-y texture. It’s my new (slash only) favorite way to enjoy beets.
I admit that I’ve never really gotten excited about beets in any form (although the idea of beet chips is intriguing…), but I am proof that nearly anyone would enjoy this hummus, whether beets are your type of root vegetable or not. Especially if you love the zing of red wine vinegar and fresh squeezed lemon, and the inviting blend of garlic and pine nuts.
My mom and I made this hummus together when my parents came to visit last month. It was nice to have a little alone time to talk with each other– a rarity these days because I live so far away from Wisconsin and often head home at the same time as my sisters.
Dinners at my mom’s house have always been pretty simple, and centered around good ingredients. My mom used to put together several small, unfussy dishes rather than any very elaborate ones (unless my sister took over the kitchen). She’d always include something green on the table– steamed broccoli with pasta, or a nice salad of mixed greens, dressed up with a fancy ingredient or two, like pomegranate seeds. She’d sometimes spend more time and make us cinnamon rice pilaf with peas and raisins, or sweet potato and cheese quesadillas, or a Nepali tofu dish with tomatoes and spinach.
(My parents spent years preparing mostly vegetarian food to accommodate me and my sisters… and then they’d eat steak or brisket whenever we went out of town.)
Since my mom got sick last winter, and was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow) in March, she hasn’t had the energy to cook for herself, so she hasn’t made any of her old favorite recipes in over a year.
My step-dad has been cooking for her regularly– making her eggs first thing in the mornings to stave off the nausea– and my younger sister has driven home to cook for both of them, assembling countless homemade matzo balls that can be frozen and re-heated in chicken broth for matzo ball soup. There has also been an outpouring of generosity from friends in Madison who have brought over home-cooked meals for my parents (some of them going so far as to research what flavors taste best to chemo patients, since apparently chemo really messes with your taste buds!).
When my parents visited me in California, I finally had the chance to cook a few meals for them (more than a few, if you count homemade coffee ice cream as a “meal”).
I also wanted to cook something together with my mom– something that she hadn’t gotten to make in a while. We thought about making her blueberry-oat muffins (the most beloved to me among my childhood food memories), or her cappuccino chocolate shortbread, or her braised tofu with noodles and greens, but we settled on the simplest choice: a beet hummus recipe she’d gotten from a friend.
We fiddled with the recipe a bit as we taste-tested it along the way. We ended up using less oil and more vinegar than the original called for, then a hint of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, which sealed the deal. The hummus aced its final taste test; it was rich and tangy, with hints of garlic and sea salt.
You can try it smeared on toast or paired with freshly baked pita bread, like we did, or include it in a homemade hummus assortment platter, along with a traditional-ish Greek yogurt hummus and avocado hummus.
It was a lovely way to spend a morning with my mom. Spending time together seems all the more precious now that I know our time is limited, but I’m hoping for many more mornings like that in the future.
Print this recipe. (PDF)
(My mom’s recipe, adapted from one of her friends)
~ 4 medium beets
~ 1 small (6-8 oz.) waxy potato (like Yukon gold), quartered
~ 4-5 Tbsp. pine nuts
~ 1 clove garlic
~ 4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
~ 4 Tbsp. olive oil
~ 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, or to taste
~ ½ tsp. sea salt, or more to taste
~ dash of ground cumin (optional)
How to make it:
1. Trim the beet greens (reserve for another recipe), scrub the beets, and use a vegetable peeler to trim away any bad spots or difficult-to-scrub spots. Slice the beets, then arrange the slices on a metal steamer basket in a saucepan. Steam for 10-15 minutes, or until soft and easily pierced with a fork.
2. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a small saucepan, and boil the potato quarters for about 10 minutes, or until soft and easily pierced with a fork. Drain the potato and set aside to cool.
3. Pulse the pine nuts and garlic in a food processor until evenly chopped, then add the cooked beets, potato, and red wine vinegar, and blend until it starts to resemble smooth hummus. Then drizzle in the olive oil (while blending, if possible). Add lemon juice and salt, then blend again until smooth.
4. Serve at room temperature with fresh pita bread, or smeared on toast.
Print this recipe! (PDF)
p.s. I don’t usually end these things with questions, but I am genuinely interested in finding more beet recipes that I like… I know my sister enjoys them in Goat Cheese Salads. What are your favorite ways to enjoy beets? I’d love to hear them.