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Beet Hummus

May 2, 2013

Beet Hummus with Homemade Pita BreadPin it!

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.

Beets for Beet Hummus

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.

Beet Hummus with Potatoes, Pine Nuts, Garlic, and LemonPin it!

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.)

Beets for Beet Hummus

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!).

Beet Hummus with Homemade Pita BreadPin it.

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”).

Ingredients for Beet Hummus with Potatoes, Pine Nuts, Garlic, and Lemon

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.

Ingredients for Beet Hummus with Potatoes, Pine Nuts, Garlic, and Lemon

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.

Beet Hummus with Potatoes, Pine Nuts, Garlic, and Lemon

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.

Beet Hummus with Potatoes, Pine Nuts, Garlic, and Lemon

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.

Beet Hummus with Homemade Pita BreadPin it.

Print this recipe. (PDF)


Beet Hummus
(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.

Beet chopping aftermathBeets for Beet Hummus

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.

Beets for Beet HummusBoiling potatoes for Beet Hummus

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.

Beet Hummus with Potatoes, Pine Nuts, Garlic, and LemonBeet Hummus with Homemade Pita Bread

4. Serve at room temperature with fresh pita bread, or smeared on toast.

Print this recipe! (PDF)

Beet Hummus with Homemade Pita BreadPin it!

Beet Hummus with Homemade Pita BreadPin it!

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.

Related recipe posts:
> Avocado Hummus
> Homemade Pita Bread and Greek Yogurt Hummus
> Pear and Pomegranate Salad with Hazelnuts

45 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2013 9:56 am

    Yum, so pretty and sounds really tasty too!

  2. May 2, 2013 10:27 am

    This is such a lovely post – cooking with your mum is the most special thing. I also don’t get to do it often enough!

    Here’s another really nice recipe for beetroot hummus – I love how earthy and smoky it is because of the cumin & walnuts:

    And I really love beetroots in risotto – you can roast them first, so they’re really sweet and delicious. In fact, that was what made me start to love beetroot, I hated it growing up!

    • May 2, 2013 12:48 pm

      That looks so good! I’m obsessed with cumin. Pinning immediately.

    • May 4, 2013 12:00 pm

      Thanks for commenting and sharing recipe ideas! I will definitely try that hummus you linked to, too– adding toasted walnuts sounds like a wonderful idea. Cumin works nicely in the recipe I posted, although I only added ground cumin; next time I can try freshly grinding cumin seeds.

      Roasted beet risotto sounds like it has lots of potential… do you add some kind of cheese to that, too, like goat cheese?

      • May 5, 2013 4:31 pm

        Actually, so far I’ve only added parmesan to beet risotto, but I think goat’s cheese would be amazing! Or maybe feta?

      • May 5, 2013 5:00 pm

        Oo, yes, I bet feta cheese would be great with beets… nice and salty to stand up to the strong beet flavor and cut through the sweetness. And parmesan sounds lovely, too!

  3. May 2, 2013 12:35 pm

    I would never have thought of beeting up my hummus but this looks gorgeous :)

    Choc Chip Uru

  4. May 2, 2013 12:48 pm

    Beautiful post–it sounds like you are a strong family making the best out of a tough situation. Best of luck to you all.

    And, lovely recipe! I’ve always been a huge fan of beets. Tom Colicchio has a great recipe for a simple roasted beet salad in the Craft cookbook, with a beautiful, tangy, bright pink vinaigrette made from roasted beets… I love it, but I can’t guarantee that someone who doesn’t like beets would feel the same!

    • May 4, 2013 12:05 pm

      Thank you for your comment. I like to think that’s true about my family, too; I feel lucky to have so much love and support around me, and I hope my mom feels the same way.

      Thanks for the recipe tip, too! I’m not sure about a beet salad WITH a beet vinaigrette (since I am only a novice enjoyer of beets…) but one or the other / one at a time could be good! If I re-join my CSA this season and get beets in the farm share, then I will definitely try roasting them and making a tangy vinaigrette dressing from some of them. I can imagine the color– not to mention the flavors– really perking up a salad.

  5. May 2, 2013 12:59 pm

    Lovely post, thank you for sharing this story with us. I love spending time with my mom and I know that one-on-one time is even more special. Sounds like your mom has a wonderful support system and a wonderful daughter who knows how to put together a unique and tasty looking dish!!

    • May 4, 2013 12:07 pm

      Thanks, Heather! Well the unique and tasty looking dish in this case was basically my mom’s idea, but yes I think it’s true about the wonderful support system. Writing this post was hard because I’ve always wanted this blog to be more about food and not so personal, so I’m glad to hear you enjoyed reading it (and that you love spending time with your mom, too!).

  6. May 2, 2013 6:15 pm

    This looks amazing! as a Scandinavian I’m automatically attracted to anything with beets, and although I heard of beet tzatziki (the Greek dip) this is the first time I’ve seen beet hummus.. must give it a go! :)

    • May 4, 2013 12:09 pm

      Thanks, Sunny! Whoa, I’ve never heard of beet tzatziki, but I bet that would be amazing– I think the sourness of yogurt (like the red wine vinegar and fresh lemon juice here) would really balance the earthy flavors of the beets… Do you have a recipe? (I shared a recipe for a more traditional Greek yogurt/cucumber/garlic tzatziki recently.)

      • May 5, 2013 5:12 pm

        Yes, the beet tzatziki is delicious! I do have a delicious recipe which I intend to share in one of my future posts – so stay tuned! Keep up the great work, love your blog! :)

      • May 7, 2013 11:25 am

        Thank you, Sunny! That’s so nice to hear. :) And yes, I will stay tuned and I’ll be anxiously awaiting your beet tzatziki recipe post!

  7. May 2, 2013 7:46 pm

    I have to admit this doesn’t sound good to me because I dislike beets. However I was convinced to try it when you admitted that you do not like them very much. I will let you know how it goes.

    • May 4, 2013 12:10 pm

      Yes, well we have that in common then! Definitely let me know if you like the flavor– I’d be interested to hear if this hummus can win over other beet skeptics besides just me. :)

  8. May 3, 2013 12:06 am

    That color! The color makes beets worth eating. I’m so glad you’re getting that time with your mom–what a good reminder to appreciate every moment with our loved ones. Take care.

  9. May 3, 2013 11:00 pm

    Beautiful post and recipe!

  10. May 4, 2013 2:39 pm

    I never would have thought to do this! Did Paula make that pita bread?? It looks fantastic! Pictures also look amazing. It was so fun to see you guys.

    For beet recipes, I like to cube them and do a light pickle (vinegar, sugar and salt) then eat them with lots of dill and/or mint. Straightforward, but tasty. You can also do think slices (works best with baby beets) and do a quick pickle raw. I get so many in my CSA, I need to collect recipes.

    • May 4, 2013 3:01 pm

      Yes, Paula made the pita bread! (It turned out even better looking than when we took photos for the pita bread blog post.)

      We had fun having you visit, too! And thanks for the beet recipe idea… I do love pickled things… :) Thin slices pickled somehow sounds even more appealing to me than cubed, but yes, I will totally try this if any come in my CSA! (Not sure if I’m joining a CSA again this season or not yet.)

      Also check out the beet recipes that other readers have linked to in the comments above.

  11. Tina permalink
    May 4, 2013 9:14 pm

    Beautifully written post and memories Allison. I want to make this dish! I enjoy beets roasted generously with olive oil and garlic.

    • May 5, 2013 4:59 pm

      Thanks, Tina! Yes, roasted beets seems to be the consensus, whether they get cubed, sliced, or pureed afterwards… I will definitely try that the next time I have beets to work with. I hope you enjoy this hummus if you get a chance to make it! :)

  12. May 6, 2013 10:43 am

    Beets are my ultimate favorite veggie. Though I keep failing at making them into suitable hummus… I love how you accomplished it here! And I’m glad you got time with your mom, time is precious…

    • May 7, 2013 11:17 am

      Thanks, Ashley! Yep, this stuff is more than “suitable” thanks to my mom’s recipe. :) I hope you love it, since you already love beets so much! And yep, time with family is precious indeed.

  13. May 6, 2013 10:54 am

    Such great color. Aren’t beets fun to photograph??

    • May 7, 2013 11:18 am

      Thanks! And yes, they are! Although I didn’t even feel like I could accurately capture the color of the hummus… maybe the dark bowl was the problem. I like the photos of the beets themselves on the cutting board. They may not be my favorite vegetable to eat, but they’re awfully pretty.

  14. May 6, 2013 6:21 pm

    WOW. First, I was excited to see beets since I’m currently growing beets and I am in need of some beet recipes. But then as I started reading your post I found myself tearing up. My heart goes out to you and your family. I’m so glad you and your mom got to cook together. Such a special/cherished memory, I’m sure.

    • May 7, 2013 11:22 am

      You’re growing beets?! So cool! You should also check out the recipes that readers have linked to here in the comments… And thank you for your kind words about my post and my family. It’s been hard on all of us, but hardest on my mom of course. We had never really cooked together much before, but now I think we’d do it much more often if I didn’t live so far away!

  15. May 7, 2013 8:12 am

    I love beets and I usually make them with garlic and Greek yogurt but this hummus looks like an excellent idea!

    • May 7, 2013 11:24 am

      Thanks, Katerina! Someone else above commented about “beet tzatziki” too (I assume you meant something similar with beets, garlic, and Greek yogurt?). I absolutely love Greek yogurt and I think those flavors would go really nicely with beets! (I know garlic does…) I’ll have to try that sometime soon. :)

  16. May 7, 2013 1:39 pm

    This post is both heart warming and heart breaking. I hope you get more chances to cook with your mom!

    My favorite way to eat beets is roasted, but my mum makes a killer quick picked beet salad. This hummus looks wonderful – I have to try it!

    • May 8, 2013 9:14 am

      Thank you for your comment, Korena! I hope so too.

      And yes, now I definitely want to try them roasted next time after hearing that so many people recommend it’s the way to go! :)

  17. May 13, 2013 12:12 pm

    i’m a relatively new lover of beets and this is just absolutely lovely, what a perfect way to prepare it.

    i’m so very sorry about your mom’s diagnosis. i’m glad that you’re able to cook for and with her.

    • May 13, 2013 12:36 pm

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Lan! I was really glad to be able to cook with my mom this time, although we live too far away from each other to do it regularly. Her diagnosis has made us all too aware of how precious our time together is!

      I hope you enjoy this recipe, as a “new lover of beets.” I’m in a similar boat, but I wouldn’t go quite that far in describing myself… yet. I guess I could call myself a new liker of beets. :)

  18. May 14, 2013 7:22 am

    I love the colour that beets add to anything! Their earthy sweetness goes so well with tahini and chickpeas, too. Thanks for sharing this :)

    • May 16, 2013 9:42 am

      Thanks for commenting! :) I haven’t even tried adding beets to actual hummus (with chickpeas and tahini) yet, but this was so good, I’m sure that would be excellent, too! (I thought about using white beans or chickpeas instead of the potato at first, but then we stuck with the way my mom had made the recipe before. I still think any of those would work, though!)

  19. May 18, 2013 2:32 pm

    I’m hummus crazy! I eat the stuff everyday. This is such a beautiful and unique hummus recipe – I’ll certainly have to give it a whirl (in my blender, that is). Celeste:)

    • May 18, 2013 2:44 pm

      Thanks, Celeste! We are pretty hummus crazy around here, too. Mostly with the chickpea kind, but I’ll definitely come back to this, too. It’d be especially nice as part of a hummus assortment platter, because of the bright flavor and color.


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