Does your family enjoy hummus, the Middle East spread or dip traditionally prepared with mashed chickpeas, lemon, garlic and sesame seeds or oil? Our tribe has always consumed vast quantities of the addictive mixture, often on toasted pita wedges or chips, or as a dip for crunchy, garden vegetables.
Food historians have multiple theories about the dates and origin of hummus. The earliest written recipe was recorded in Cairo in the 13th century. Today, the product is often mass-produced and widely available, with many variations, in the supermarket.
A staple of vegan and vegetarian cuisines, hummus is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with protein and vitamins. Because hummus is a source of iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and complex carbohydrates, the savory mixture is sometimes referred to as the “Queen of Aphrodisacs.”
Regardless of the benefits to one’s health, there is still a lot to love about this peasant-inspired dish. Spread on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise, warm for breakfast over toast, rolled up in steamed cabbage leaves, or as a sauce for meats and fish, hummus shines. Recipes abound for many variations, as many as there are creative cooks!
In the recipe for Spicy Beet Hummus, cooked beets add a nice pink color to the spread. The heat and spice comes from a jalapeno pepper. Need more kick? Add more fresh jalapeno, or chili pepper flakes. Maine maple syrup mellows the zing, while the white vinegar provides a nice balance for the flavors.
Traditionally, hummus was prepared with a mortar and pestle, producing a chunky texture. I prefer the smoothness created with a blender or food processor, plus the cleanup is so much easier.
Spicy Beet Hummus is a regular menu item this summer for our visiting friends and families. Fresh beets and garlic from the garden, herbs and edible flowers, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and crunchy cucumbers create a striking, visual work of art, and a healthy, tasty treat.
Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. She welcomes food-related comments and questions at [email protected]
Spicy Beet Hummus
This delicious spread is a snap to make in the bowl
of your blender or food processor.
1/3-cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Maine maple syrup
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (or 3 tablespoons lemon juice)
¼ cup sesame tahini
¼ cup white vinegar
1 large beet (about 1 cup) cooked beets
1 -14 ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 -garlic clove
1- jalapeno pepper, seeded and quartered (use gloves!)
Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
Assemble ingredients and tools.
Cook the beets in a pot of water on top of the stove until fork tender. Rinse them with cold water and slip off the skins. Set aside.Wearing gloves, cut the jalapeno pepper in half, remove the seeds, and quarter the pepper. Set aside.
In the bowl of your blender or food processor, add the olive oil, Maine maple syrup, lemon juice, sesame tahini, white vinegar, garlic clove, jalapeno pepper and beets.
Slowly start to puree the mixture, and then increase the speed to high and puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Taste and season with sea salt and fresh pepper. If a “hotter” hummus is desired, add some chili pepper flakes.
Makes about 1-½ cups.
Nutritional analysis per 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) serving: 80 calories, 2 grams protein, 7 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fat, 80 mg. sodium, less than 1 gram fiber.