Beet Hummus

Beet_Hummus-FPOSay “beets” in the Jewish community and one often thinks of borscht, that slightly sweet/tart, cold soup, whose bright magenta color morphs into pastel only when a dollop of sour cream is added. This cheap and plentiful tuber was abundant in Eastern Europe and the Ukraine (borsch means soup of any kind in the Ukraine) and became a staple of the impoverished Jewish and Polish communities. In most temperate climates beets were harvested in summer and early fall and stored all winter in root cellars.

Hummus, the mixture of chick peas and sesame paste originated in the Middle East and probably could be considered an Israeli national dish because it is served at all meals and festive occasions. A few years ago I was served beet hummus at an upscale restaurant in Tel Aviv. The following is my interpretation of this delicious dish and a great way to introduce children to beets.

  1.  Place drained beets and garbanzo beans in a processor workbowl and pulse the machine on and off until the two ingredients are blended but a coarse texture. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl with a rubber spatula.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and processor until the ingredients form a fairly smooth paste.
  3. Place mixture in a decorative bowl and serve with pita bread or vegetables for dipping.

Yield: 1 pint


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  • 1 15 ounce can whole beets, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 ounce can chick peas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup tahini (sesame butter) or almond butter if necessary
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Baharat or cinnamon or allspice and a pinch of cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 grindings of black pepper, or to taste

Preparation Instructions

Tina’s Tidbits:

  1. This recipe may be made with one large fresh beet that has been oven roasted and peeled. However, the extra time involved should only be applied to this if you are working with an older child (8-10) with more patience and dexterity to handle peeling the roasted beet.
  2. Baharat is a mixture of spices whose use originated in India but is widely used in the Middle East. Different mixtures of spices are found in different regions but the inclusion of cinnamon, cumin cloves and sometimes pepper, or lemony sumac, are most often the basis for this mixture. Cinnamon or allspice can be substituted as stated in the recipe.
  3. Do not use peanut butter for this recipe. Peanut butter or peanut oil is so distinctive in flavor that they rarely can be substituted for other butters or oils called for in a recipe.

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