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 in the supermarket, with many variations.
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 of hummus, 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 jalepeno pepper. Need more kick? Add more fresh jalepeno, 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 clean up 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.
SPICY BEET HUMMUS
- 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
- 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.